Other UK News In Brief

'Snowmen' Cigarette Smugglers Jailed

Two Manchester men who pretended to import Christmas snowmen in a plot to smuggle nine million cigarettes into the UK through Felixstowe docks, were jailed today. The cigarettes had a potential tax loss of over £1.4 million. William Crewe, 65, of Salford, and John Dent, 62, of Middleton, both pleaded guilty to their involvement following a criminal investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Mike O’Grady, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said: "Officers examined a freight container at the docks described on importation paperwork as 'poly resin snowmen' en route to Middleton. However, inside there were no festive snowmen just millions of illegal cigarettes. By evading tobacco duty, this scam not only deprived the UK of public funds, but also undercut legitimate retailers." In his summing up His Honour Judge Steiger said he had taken into account the men's ages and ill health but that due to the serious circumstances and previous convictions for cigarette smuggling he had to give a custodial sentence. Confiscation of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act is being sought.

Chicken Firm Fined After Worker Skins Hand

A chicken company has been prosecuted after a worker using a carcass ‘de-skinning’ machine tore the skin off the back of his own hand.
 The employee was using the machine to skin chickens when his glove became caught and his hand was pulled onto the cutting blade. Thetford Magistrates' Court heard that the skin on the back of his hand, was torn completely away in the incident on 24 July 2009. Crown Chicken Ltd, pleaded guilty to four breaches of health and safety law, including a separate incident where a second worker’s hand was crushed. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the first incident found the machine did not have adequate guards, there was no emergency stop button, and the gloves were not suitably protective. HSE inspector, Saffron Turnell, said: "These two incidents resulted in very serious and painful injuries to both men. What is more, both could easily have been avoided if Crown Chicken had taken the correct health and safety precautions." Magistrates fined the firm £4,000 for each charge (total £8,000) and ordered it to pay £5,500 in costs.

Council Fined After Asbestos Danger

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council has been fined after sending an employee to deal with a water leak in a housing complex without warning him asbestos was present. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the council after it failed to warn the trained plumber that asbestos was present at a sheltered accommodation complex, despite possessing a survey detailing where it was. Nuneaton Magistrates Court heard that on 17 August 2009 the employee was sent to Craddock Court in the town after a leak was reported. Unaware he was dealing with asbestos, and not wearing any personal protective clothing, the worker gained access to the leaking pipe, while sawing the material. Nuneaton and Bedworth BC pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulations. The council was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,140.


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