Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 12:05 UK

Fireworks pair deny manslaughter

Smoke rising from the fire at the fireworks factory
Two fire service staff were killed in the explosion in December 2006

The owner of a fireworks depot and his son have denied the manslaughter of two firefighters who died in an explosion at the site in East Sussex.

Martin Winter, 50, boss of Alpha Fireworks Ltd, and Nathan Winter, 23, both of Marlie Farm, Shortgate, pleaded not guilty at Lewes Crown Court.

Retained firefighter Geoff Wicker, 49, and support officer Brian Wembridge, 63, died on 3 December 2006.

The two defendants are each charged with two counts of manslaughter.

The indictment alleges that the Winters unlawfully killed Mr Wicker and Mr Wembridge by gross negligence by failing to provide "a duty of care in the handling and the storage of fireworks that posed a (risk of) mass explosion or hazard".

A not guilty plea was also entered for Alpha Fireworks Ltd, which faces two charges of contravening health and safety legislation.

Unconditional bail

A provisional trial date was set for 21 June next year at Lewes Crown Court.

Both Nathan and Martin Winter were released on unconditional bail.

Mr Wicker, a retained firefighter, and Mr Wembridge, a fire service cameraman, were both long-serving members of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

They received full brigade honours at their funeral services.

Twelve other people were injured in the explosions and blaze at the firework importers' premises, then called Festival Fireworks, near Ringmer.

They included nine firefighters and a police officer.

Pair in court over depot deaths
18 Jun 08 |  Sussex

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