A man accused of killing a schoolboy in an industrial cable spooler told a court his head was “all over the place” after finding the teen slumped in the machine.
Dean Reynolds said he had walked into a building at Denholm MacNamee’s industrial cleaning and painting facility at Inverurie and found Michael McLean, 17, lying in the spooling machine.
Reynolds, who is on trial at the High Court in Aberdeen, is accused of the culpable homicide of Michael.
The 23-year-old denies the charge and yesterday gave evidence in his own defence.
Advocate depute Richard Goddard played CCTV footage which showed Reynolds going into the “paint tent” where the machine was and coming out seconds later before stopping and going back inside for a few more seconds and re-emerging and breaking into a run to raise the alarm.
Asked to explain these movements to police at the time, Reynolds said: “It sounds stupid now, but my mind was telling me I hadn’t seen what I had just seen. My head was all over the place.”
Mr Goddard put it to Reynolds that he had started the machine while Mr McLean was inside and “seen him badly hurt and didn’t know what to do next”.
Reynolds replied: “No.”
Reynolds told the court he “thought he was just taking a breather” and that the teenager wasn’t badly hurt.
The court heard Reynolds told police that Michael was helping him to paint the spooling machine.
He said he didn’t think that Michael would have been able to reach the starting handle for the machine from inside the drum where he was found.
And he denied ever starting up the machine while Michael was inside it on August 14 2015, the last day of the teenager’s summer job at the firm before he was due to resume school.
The trial earlier heard how Michael was found unconscious and bleeding from the ears on the floor of the paint tent in which sat an industrial spooling machine used to raise and lower subsea cables from oil platforms and boats.
Michael’s father – who also worked at the firm – frantically tried to give his son CPR before the teenager was rushed to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where he died six days later.
The court was told that a post-mortem examination found that Michael had suffered a broken vertebrae in his neck, which caused a tear in his spinal cord.
This had led to cardiac arrest which starved his brain of oxygen.
Under questioning from his advocate, Iain Duguid QC, Reynolds told the court he had gone into the “paint tent” – a building used for painting industrial items at the yard – around 12.20pm and found Michael lying in the spooling machine they had been working on .
Mr Duguid asked Reynolds how he felt in the moments after he made the discovery.
He said: “My mind was all over the place – I didn’t know what I had seen.
“I was shocked and scared.
“Everything was going so slow – my mind was going slow.”
Mr Duguid asked: “Did you think he was badly injured?”
Reynolds replied: “No – he just looked unconscious.”
Reynolds said he had gone for help and brought two colleagues to the paint tent. Mr Duguid asked if Reynolds had ever told other workers that it looked like “Michael was taking a breather” when he was found.
Reynolds replied: “I think so yes. It looked like that – like he was having a rest.”
He later told the court he had sent messages to his partner about the incident in which he said a “young lad” was “maybe dead” and that he was “s******g myself”.
Asked why he had written that Reynolds added: “Because I was scared of what I’d seen.”
Detective sergeant John Sneddon told the court he had twice interviewed Reynolds over the incident.
In a lengthy statement read to the court, DS Sneddon said Reynolds had told him: “He couldn’t reach the lever (to start the machine) from where he was.
“I’m not sure he would have been able to operate the lever from inside the drum.
“His dad, Mark, arrived and started doing CPR. I had to leave the tent as I felt I couldn’t do anything.
“I felt hopeless.”
Reynolds added in his statement that he had last used the spooler machine shortly after his morning tea-break on the day Michael was injured and “was not aware” of it being used by anyone else that day as he “would have heard it”.
Reynolds, of Regent Street, Keith, denies a charge of culpable homicide. At the close of the Crown case yesterday advocate depute Richard Goddard withdrew a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice by discarding two pairs of work boots belonging to him to avoid examination and analysis of them.
He also deleted an alternative charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The defence case also concluded following Reynolds’ evidence, with the closing speeches expected today. The trial, before judge Lord Beckett and a jury of six men and nine women, continues.