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Oven firm Beko faces huge fines after 15 deaths

By Nevin Farrell

One of the world's largest manufacturers of kitchen appliances to is to be prosecuted and could face fines of more than £300,000 after its ovens were linked to 15 deaths - including that of a Belfast pensioner - from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Turkish Beko company is being prosecuted by Hertfordshire trading standards for 69 alleged safety breaches involving its ovens and is due to appear in court in November.

Trading standard officials are prosecuting Beko over its failure to inform consumers of the risk or notify enforcement authorities.

On January 22, 2009, 92-year-old Gwen Stanford was killed by a Beko cooker in her north Belfast home.

Coroner Brian Sherrard said he was satisfied Ms Stanford, who lived alone on the Shore Road, died accidentally when the grill of her gas cooker was operated while the door was closed, allowing toxic levels of carbon monoxide to build up in her home.

Details of the legal action came after Andrew Walker, a London coroner, recommended that the Government reforms product safety regulation.

He had ruled that Santosh Benjamin-Muthiah (36) died in November 2010 after a fire caused by a Beko fridge freezer.

Families of victims who have died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from Beko's ovens say the inquest exposed a lax safety culture and want Beko investigated for corporate manslaughter.

The relatives say the company has been slow to act over potentially deadly defects in hundreds of thousands of products.

The parents of Richard Smith (30) and Kevin Branton (32) attended the conclusion of the Benjamin-Muthiah inquest.

The two friends died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a Beko cooker at their home in Cornwall in November 2010.

By then the company had known about the risk from its cookers for two years, it was reported.

The oven produces deadly amounts of carbon monoxide if it is used incorrectly with the grill door shut.

The brands of oven affected are Beko, Leisure, Flavel and some models distributed by Glen Dimplex.

All are made by Beko's parent company in Turkey. Beko said it has acted as quickly and comprehensively as possible over the product recalls and offered condolences to the relatives of those who died using its products.

Andrew Mullen, Quality Manager UK & Ireland said: "By March 2009, Beko had already begun a corrective action programme and was no longer selling un-modified products; also by that time all direct retail customers had been informed. In addition, Beko had begun an extensive communications campaign to raise public awareness of the issues."

Beko also said it was one of many manufacturers to have launched product recalls and its success rate was three or four times greater than an industry average of 10% to 20%. For information on the Beko oven recall go to beko.co.uk/cookerssafetynotice.

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