A MAN died while repairing a stone crushing machine at Newport's Uskmouth power station site, after it was switched on by a colleague who had forgotten he was inside.

Christopher Longbottom, 32, from Tetbury, Gloucestershire, was working on an internal pullback rod when operator Andrew Sampson switched the machine on after himself completing a minor repair on another part, an inquest was told.

Interviewed by police after the October 26 2007 incident, Mr Sampson said he had "totally forgotten" Mr Longbottom was inside. He had spoken to him just minutes earlier.

The inquest jury and Gwent coroner David Bowen were also told a recognised safety procedure for ensuring the machine could not be started, had not been followed.

Father-of-one Mr Longbottom performed crusher repairs at Uskmouth several times, alongside Niall Jones, a more experienced fitter, but on this occasion had gone alone.

In a written statement, Mr Jones said Mr Longbottom had been capable of carrying out on his own what was a "relatively straightforward" repair.

He also stated the procedure for locking down the machine involved the fitter removing the ignition key and keeping it in his pocket until the job was complete.

On this occasion however, the key remained inserted.

Asked by Tim Newman, counsel for Mr Longbottom's family, if the key should have been removed at break times, Mr Sampson admitted that ideally, it should have been, but on this occasion it was left in the crusher's control panel, as he was having his break nearby.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Longbottom arrived, they spoke briefly, then went to do their respective repairs.

Detective Sergeant Chris Watson-Cowen described how, in his police interview, Mr Sampson said he switched on the machine for three or four seconds after completing his repair.

"He said the machine should have been locked out by Chris but he held himself responsible because he should have done it also," said DS Watson-Cowen.

Mr Sampson denied being blasé, but had just forgotten Mr Longbottom was inside.

He told the inquest he is "very sorry" the incident happened.

Graham Stone, operating a neighbouring machine, said he heard the crusher start, saw two spanners fly out, then saw Mr Longbottom pulled under a conveyor belt, before screaming at Mr Sampson to switch it off.

Mr Longbottom died of crush injuries to his chest.

Verdict: Misadventure.