The recent trial of Andrew Stocker (57) found him guilty of the manslaughter of Scott Cain (23) and Ashley Clarke (24), who died when trying to remove apples from a CA store on the farm. This resulted in Mr Justice Akenhead sentencing the Blackmore Estate’s farm manager to 2 ½ years in prison. In addition, Blackmore Estate was fined £75,000 for three offences related to contravening health and safety regulations and ordered to pay costs.
The apples which the two young men were attempting to retrieve from the CA store (which the court in Winchester was told has now been closed) were for display at the National Fruit Show where Stocker and Blackmore Estate have been consistent winners. Stocker knew that the best apples were at the top of the store and instructed the two mean to use a practice known as “scuba diving” (in which workers held their breath while trying to retrieve apples) to remove the apples from the store which had an oxygen content of only 1 per cent. The judge told Stocker that he had been “reckless” by ignoring clear guidelines that no-one should enter the storage units – meaning it was “a disaster waiting to happen”. At the time of the incident, Stocker was on holiday in the Maldives but had left instructions.