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Suspended sentence after butcher's apprentice loses fingers

23 February 2021

THE MANAGING director of a Worle butchers has been given a suspended prison sentence for breaching health and safety.

The hearing at Weston magistrates court heard that in July 2019, a 17-year-old apprentice, Dylan Jewell-Deverson, was using a mincer at Worle Village Butchers in The Maltings at Worle when his left hand was drawn into the machine causing amputation of two fingers to the second knuckle. 

An investigation by North Somerset Council's food and commercial safety team found that the fixed guard on the mincer had been forcibly removed over a year previously, meaning Dylan's hand could be drawn into the machine. 

Charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act were brought against both the company, and the managing director, Mrs Frances Bird. 

The court was told that Mrs Bird, an accountant by profession, stated she has no practical experience in butchery, employing butchers to run the shop. However, from June 2018 she took a more active role in the business, working behind the counter, doing deliveries, interviewing new staff, and completing business documentation including risk assessments.

Mrs Bird pleaded guilty and was given an 18-week custodial sentence suspended for 18 months. She was also ordered to pay costs of £5,535 with a surcharge of £115.

The company, which is the process of liquidation, was fined £30,000 fine, together with shared costs of £5,535 and a surcharge of £170.

Cllr Mike Bell, North Somerset Council's deputy leader whose portfolio includes regulatory services, said: "This incident has had lifelong effects on Dylan - he can no longer pursue a career in the armed forces and suffers ongoing pain.

"Health and safety is there for a reason - to make sure proper safeguards are in place so that incidents like this can be avoided.

"This case demonstrates that responsibilities must be taken seriously, and if they are not, you will be held to account."