Two men killed by deadly gases take number of victims to be poisoned by faulty cookers to eight
Richard Smith, 30, and Kevin Branton, 34, were killed almost instatly as lethal carbon monoxide filled their home in Saltash, Cornwall7,000 of the faulty ovens are still being used in kitchens across country
Manufacturers Beko are also linked to fridges which caught fire
12:27 GMT, 8 December 2012
Two friends died while cooking a pie in a killer oven which is still being used in 7,000 British kitchens, an inquest heard.
Housemates Richard Smith, 30, and Kevin Branton, 34, were killed by lethal carbon monoxide within minutes of turning on the grill made by manufacturer Beko, who have previously been criticised for selling fridges freezers which catch fire.
Mr Smith's father Brian said the tragedy had left a 'huge gaps in our hearts' and he hoped the pair would be the last victims of faulty equipment.
Kevin Branton, pictured left, and Richard Smith, right, were killed almost instantly by lethal gases as they cooked a pie in their Beko oven at their home in Cornwall
Beko recalled the product as the cooker has a complete seal around the oven which means if the grill is used with the door shut it can be deadly.
The Flavel Milano 50 grill begins to produce lethal carbon monoxide because the seal doesn't allow any oxygen to get inside.
The pair were cooking a pie when the oven began releasing the odourless fumes which filled the house in minutes and killed them both.
At least six other people in the UK have fallen victim to several faulty models of Beko ovens, the inquest in Truro, Cornwall, heard.
The Beko oven, pictured, which killed Mr Smith and Mr Branton has been recalled by the company but it is believed that 7,000 are still in use in the UK
Beko recalled the ovens, 21,000 of which were sold, but only managed to contact 80 per cent of customers, it was said.
Trading standards officers and Beko admit there are still around 7,000 being used in the UK.
Mr Smith, an administrative officer for the Child Support Agency, and Mr Branton, a ground worker, were found dead in their home in Saltash, Cornwall, in December 2010.
The inquest heard the cooker was purchased by Mr Branton's parents from Derry's Cooperative in Plymouth, Devon, in 2008.
Floral tributes were left for the friends outside their home in Saltash, Cornwall, after they were killed by the lethal gases in 2010
Mr Smith's father, Brian, told the inquest: 'Richard and Kevin had the rest of their lives ahead of them.
'But their lives were tragically ended by something as simple as a grill door on a cooker.
'Kevin and Richard have left huge gaps in our hearts and for everyone who knew them we will miss them for everyday of our lives.
'Testing of household appliances is not adequate. More time and money must be spent on making sure they are safe.
'Richard and Kevin are not the first to lose their lives in this way but hopefully they will be the last.'
In the two months before their Beko oven was installed five others had died using its grill in the same way.
Health and Safety Executive engineer Steve Critchlow, who investigated the accident, told the inquest the grill became dangerous if used with the door closed.
The oven, pictured, started leaking carbon monoxide – a colourless, odourless gas – as the two men tried to cook a pie
He said cooker grills should not be operated with the door shut as this limits oxygen and can cause carbon monoxide to be produced.
Some ovens have a safety cut-out to stop that happening and others have an air gap around the door, he explained.
But the Flavel Milano 50 grill had a door fitted with a complete seal which was a manufacturer's defect.
Mr Critchlow said it was possible there 'could still be people out there with cookers in a dangerous condition'.
The tragedy takes to eight the number of UK deaths linked to defective Beko, Leisure and Flavel cookers all made in the companies Turkish factory.
Trading Standards officer Gary Webster told the inquest that British oven testing standards have been modified to include tests on grills with the door closed.
He said the Beko appliance could be made safe by a simple modification which involves removing part of the seal.
Beko have also recently been criticised after a faulty brand of its fridge freezer was linked to a series of house fires leaving 15 people injured and one person dead.
A spokesman for Beko said: 'This is a great tragedy and our deepest condolences go to the family and friends of Mr. Branton and Mr Smith.
'In November 2008, Beko became aware of a safety risk pertaining to certain models of the Beko, Leisure and Flavel gas cookers. This risk can be eliminated by a simple modification, carried out by our service engineers free of charge.
'Since we became aware of the issue in November 2008, we immediately launched a corrective action program.'
That included sending letters to all customers on its database, door-knocking campaigns and advertising in the national and local press.
They claim that the oven met all testing standards when it was first released.
He added: 'Beko have successfully lobbied to change the testing standards at the EU level to make the testing regime more rigorous.
'As a result of this extensive activity, a majority of affected models have been located and modified. However, 6998 affected units remain untraced in the UK.'
A verdict of accidental death for both men was recorded by a jury at Truro County Hall.
Mr Branton's mother Denise Wray said: 'Kevin was a person who loved life. He loved working and loved to spend his money socialising with his friends. He will be missed every day.'
Carbon monoxide gas is colourless, odourless, tasteless, very poisonous and can kill in minutes.