�40k fine over Barking bowling alley tragedy

BREWING giant Mitchells and Butlers was ordered to pay nearly �55,000 after a worker was crushed to death in a Barking bowling alley machine. The company, which owns the Hollywood Bowl group, failed to protect technician Ferdinand Dela Cruz, 34, who suffo

BREWING giant Mitchells and Butlers was ordered to pay nearly �55,000 after a worker was crushed to death in a Barking bowling alley machine.

The company, which owns the Hollywood Bowl group, failed to protect technician Ferdinand Dela Cruz, 34, who suffocated under the mechanism which resets the pins.

The married father-of-one had climbed inside the equipment to clean it at the alley in Jenkins Lane on July 6, 2006, when he accidentally triggered the system.

Mr Dela Cruz, a "competent, professional and respected'' team leader, failed to unplug the electrics and a sensor was activated, bringing the mechanism down on him.


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Players continued unwittingly to bowl nearby as he was killed. Filipino Mr Dela Cruz, of East Ham, was found by a colleague.

The death initially triggered a murder inquiry. But it was discovered the blame lay in flouted Health and Safety procedures at the since-closed venue.

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Prosecutor Matthew Paul, told Inner London Crown Court on Thursday: "The decision to clean the pin cups without isolating the machinery was wholly out of character.'' But he said the company was legally responsible for Mr Dela Cruz's safety and his death could have been avoided if a full risk-assessment had been carried out.

Judge Robert Fraser said that the death could have been avoided had the machine been fitted with a guard that isolated the power.

The firm has now spent �2.28million on a guarding system which is being rolled out at its 23 bowling centres.

The company was fined �40,000, with �14,838.37 costs. Hollywood Bowl acting operations director Gary Crawford, on behalf of the firm, admitted one count of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Prosecutors offered no evidence on two like counts and a further nine of contravening Health and Safety regulations and the company was cleared

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