WALLOP Defence Systems Ltd (WDS) has been ordered to pay £376,000 in fines and costs for safety failings that caused a fatal explosion at its factory six miles from Andover.

Anthony Sheridan, aged 37, from Over Wallop, was killed from injuries sustained in the blast at WDS, in Middle Wallop in June 2006.

Mr Sheridan was emptying one of six industrial ovens used in the manufacture of military flares. The ovens contained high levels of nitroglycerin (NG) that exploded, causing an explosion that destroyed the factory building.

WDS, which was acquired by Esterline just three months before the incident, issued a statement following the hearing offering its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Sheridan.

In the statement WDS said “The company pleaded guilty at the first reasonable opportunity to three offences contrary to sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc.

Act 1974 and has been fined £266,000 plus £110,000 costs.

“An entirely new management team is now in place at Wallop, and the company has co-operated fully with the Health and Safety Executive at all stages of its investigations.”

Anthony’s sister, Tracy Sheridan, said: “The loss of Anthony has been massively devastating on the whole family and particularly on me. We were very close.

“Anthony was involved with the whole family and particularly my children. He played a big role in my children’s lives and they still talk about him.

He was a friendly person and liked by all, including all of his work mates at Wallop.”

Speaking after sentencing, Qamar Khan, principal inspector for HSE’s explosives team, said: “Companies working with dangerous substances must take extreme care at all times and in all aspects of their operations.

That clearly didn’t happen here, and the consequences were tragic.”