Page last updated at 19:45 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 20:45 UK

Verdict on explosion death worker

Anthony Sheridan
Anthony Sheridan was killed when decoy flares exploded at the site

A worker was killed following a blast caused by the build-up of the explosive nitroglycerin at a defence factory that made flares, an inquest jury has found.

Anthony Sheridan, 37, from Over Wallop, Hampshire, died in the blast at Wallop Defence Systems Ltd in June 2006.

He was killed when an explosion happened as he was emptying an oven.

The inquest returned a narrative verdict, which found that Mr Sheridan had not been trained to handle nitroglycerin.

Earlier, coroner Simon Burge told the jury at Winchester Coroner's Court they could not return a verdict of unlawful killing because the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had already decided there was insufficient evidence to bring manslaughter charges against any individual or organisation.

The narrative verdict said that in April 2004 it had found that nitroglycerin had been found to be a by-product when the flares were made, but the process had continued.

It also said that guidance had not been sought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and that the building was not suitable and not licensed to handle nitroglycerin.

Taking flares

The jury found that Mr Sheridan died as a result of the explosion.

During the past week, the 10 jury members heard how Mr Sheridan had been taking flares from the large ovens when the explosion happened.

Co-worker Robert Race had escaped injury in the blast, the hearing was told.

Giving evidence, expert John Bingham said that if he had known how nitroglycerin was being treated at the site he would have stopped production there.

David Chapman, of the HSE, also told the hearing the most likely cause of the explosion was metal-to-metal interaction, with nitroglycerin trapped between the two surfaces.

In a statement, Mr Sheridan's sister Tracy, 31, revealed how her brother had in the past complained about the protective equipment he had to wear while working in Building 106 - where the ovens were kept.

Following the verdict she said: "We miss [Anthony] fully - he was a big part of the family and he's gone."

Wallop Defence Systems said it had taken a number of steps to make the handling of the explosive as safe as possible.

After the verdict Jonathan Stirland, from the firm, said: "The company has co-operated fully with the various investigations which have continued for the past three years, providing every assistance requested by Her Majesty's Coroner within the very limited remit of the inquest process."


Anthony Sheridan's sister Tracy tells the BBC the defence factory should have been closed after the nytroglycerin was discovered

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