Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Jury out in fireworks blast trial

Geoff Wicker and Brian Wembridge
Geoff Wicker (L) and Brian Wembridge died in the explosion

Jurors in the trial of the owners of a fireworks factory where two fire officers died in an explosion have retired to consider their verdicts.

Geoff Wicker, 49, and Brian Wembridge, 63, were killed in the fire at Marlie Farm, in Shortgate, near Lewes, East Sussex, in December 2006.

Alpha Fireworks boss Martin Winter, 52, and son Nathan, 25, deny manslaughter.

Lewes Crown Court has heard that a metal container illegally packed with fireworks went off "like a bomb".

As well as killing the two firefighters, both long-serving members of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, the blast injured 20 other people, mostly police and fire officers.

Nathan and Martin Winter
Nathan Winter and his father Martin both deny manslaughter

The metal container was being used to house fireworks before being shipped to the Middle East, the court was told.

Prosecutors have claimed the Winters were aware of the hazards posed by housing such fireworks in a metal container, which was not authorised by the company's licence.

Jurors have also heard arguments the Winters could not be considered responsible for the two deaths because it was the duty of firefighters to be aware of the dangers.

Not guilty pleas have been entered on behalf of Martin Winter's company, formerly known as Festival Fireworks UK Ltd, which faces two counts of breaching health and safety legislation.

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