AN Oldbury firm and three of its bosses have been fined more than £2m over the death of a worker who suffered "catastrophic" head injuries at a scrap metal recycling plant.

Father-of-one Stuart Towns, aged 34, had been working for Alutrade Ltd just three months when the tragedy happened at the Tat Bank Road site on July 24, 2017.

CCTV footage shows Mr Towns had walked into an area underneath a hopper, which housed powerful engines used to feed a conveyor belt with scrap metal for processing.

A gate preventing workers from getting to the area had broken, and the machine should have been shut down and isolated if any kind of maintenance or cleaning work needed to be done on it.

His body was discovered by colleagues minutes later and he died at the scene.

Four days earlier, forklift driver, Mr Towns had been told not to work so close to the hopper after being spotted by managing director Malcolm George.

He was spotted on CCTV working dangerously close to the machinery 40 minutes before his death, but George, who was standing nearby, took no action.

A major investigation by detectives and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found hundreds of breaches. 

They included workers jumping up and down on metal in a hopper to clear blockages, a forklift truck driven by Malcolm George being used to lift Mr Towns 18ft into the air to clear a blockage, with no safety rigging, and staff walking on a conveyor belt to clear blockages. 

READ MORE: Oldbury Alutrade's response after £2m fine over worker death

Last month at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Alutrade Ltd admitted corporate manslaughter and were sentenced at the same court today (25 March).

George, 55, of Bromsgrove, director Kevin Pugh, 46, from Sutton Coldfield, and health and safety manager Mark Redfern, 61, of Rowley Regis, were initially charged with Gross Negligence Manslaughter, but instead pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Halesowen News: Malcolm George, Kevin Pugh and Mark Redfern. Images: West Midlands PoliceMalcolm George, Kevin Pugh and Mark Redfern. Images: West Midlands Police

They admitted the charge on the basis that their failings didn’t cause the death, but together the management of the company amounted to corporate manslaughter.

At Wolverhampton Crown Court, Alutrade Ltd was fined £2m with £105,514 costs.

George was fined £15,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £7,109, Pugh was fined £5,318 and was ordered to pay £3,854 costs, and Redfern was fined £2,635 and the company was ordered to pay his costs.

Senior investigating officer Det Insp Hannah Whitehouse said: “Stuart’s death should never have happened, but sadly it was an incident waiting to happen.

“He and other staff at Alutrade Ltd were operating in a culture where dangerous working practices were regularly overlooked.

“The company put profit before health and safety and it cost Stuart his life."

Halesowen News: Stuart Towns. Photo: West Midlands PoliceStuart Towns. Photo: West Midlands Police Mr Towns' family said: "After five years we now feel we can start to focus on the happy times we shared as a family with Stuart.

"We hope that lessons can be learned from the way that Stuart died and hope that no other family goes through what we have been through.

"It's now time for us to focus on the good memories we have of Stuart."