A dad-of-one died after he was sent flying across a workshop by a tyre explosion, an inquest has heard.
But a detective told Preston Coroner’s Court the equipment Gary Jackson was using when the accident happened was subsequently moved - and has never been recovered.
The 46-year-old, of Victoria Street, Lostock Hall, was working alone at Red Scar Tyres on the Red Scar Industrial Estate in Longridge Road, Ribbleton, Preston, at around 10.30am on February 21, 2012.
He was repairing a tyre for a lorry driver when it exploded, causing a large tear, and when the air hit Mr Jackson it flung him across the building.
The wagon driver and a sales rep tried to help the tyre fitter and paramedics were called.
But he died in hospital, where a pathologist gave his cause of death as blood in his chest caused by a cut aorta.
Det Insp Dave McKenna attended the scene with Det Sgt John Crichton. They began interviewing the two witnesses and when the firm’s owner Michael McEwan arrived, Det Insp McKenna told him they would have to shut the building and “he was not to touch anything in the workshop”.
They were joined by council workers, health and safety executives, crime scene investigators, and shortly after noon two other members of staff from the firm, who he said were taken away to be interviewed after about half an hour.
However, Det Insp McKenna said photographs taken by crime scene investigators at 12.26pm and 2pm showed that during this period the area where Mr Jackson had been working was interfered with, as equipment including a direct line inflator valve, which he was thought to have used to inflate the tyre, was moved.
He said: “Clearly in-between the first set of photos and the second set somebody has gone into the scene and altered it.
“I can say categorically it was no police officer or member of Health and Safety that moved that - that was a protected scene and everybody knew it was a protected scene.”
He said a police officer had manned the main gates to the yard, but there was nobody at the door of the premises.
Det Insp McKenna said: “Something has happened where I have been distracted and this was allowed to happen. Somebody has taken an opportune moment.”
David Moffatt, a tyre parts sales representative, told the court he saw Mr Jackson using the direct airline, with the tyre lent against, rather than inside, a safety cage.
He said he had seen Mr Jackson but not other staff using the equipment before, which was used to “get air in a lot quicker”, even though it wasn’t “good practice”.
He said after Mr Jackson’s death Mr McEwan told him he “keeps telling them about not using a direct line.”
He said: “Mick can’t be there all the time can he? What I’m saying is when Mick is not there sometimes they use them.”
The inquest continues.