A mechanic has been left with life-changing injuries after being crushed between two vehicles at an 'unsafe' factory.

Robert Loth used to be an active person - but was turned into a 'couch potato' in the horrifying incident at VFS (Southampton) Limited’s Eastleigh site on Barton Park Industrial Estate.

A Ford Transit van was being driven up a ramp when the driver's foot slipped off the clutch - propelling it forward and smashing into Mr Loth and the vehicle he was working on.

Daily Echo: VFS (Southampton) Limited's Eastleigh site at Barton Park Industrial EstateThe driver only had a provisional licence at the time he was working for the business, which converts vehicles.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard how Mr Loth's kidneys “shut down” and he was left in a coma after the incident.

He lost 20cm of his lower intestine, had a crushed nerve, shattered five vertebrae and was left with a gash on his arm.

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Speaking at a hearing on Thursday, prosecutor Michael Forster, representing the Health and Safety Executive said: "He has been advised he may end up in a wheelchair if arthritis sets in.

"He said it is extremely frustrating going from being active to being a coach potato."

Six years on from the incident on December 5, 2018, Mr Loth, now in his 40s, has developed sleep apnoea, is on anti-depressants and has constant pain in his hip and back to the point where he needs help getting out of the bath.

Speaking at a hearing on Thursday, Mr Forster said: “Work was unsafe in the factory. There were no conveyer belts to move vehicles at a steady pace."

Daily Echo: VFS (Southampton) Limited's Eastleigh site at Barton Park Industrial EstateHe also listed several shortcomings of the business, including insufficient risk assessments and health and safety training; previous collisions between vehicles before this incident and a rule where driving licences weren't needed if the vehicles were being driven on the premises.

The company, which also has a site in South Kirby, West Yorkshire, previously pleaded guilty to failing to discharge its general health and safety and welfare duty to an employee.

Defending, Tom Horder said the company, which has been running since 1993, had never before had an incident like this.

He said: "Of course this incident highlights failings but it would be wrong to say that this is a company that didn’t take health and safety seriously."

He stressed “how upset and sorry” the company is: “It is a company where everyone at each site knows each other.

“It really was a bit of a hammer blow to have to deal with an incident of this degree."

VFS Ltd has no previous convictions and is currently sponsoring Eastleigh Football Club and supporting local charity, The Wave Project, the court heard.

Judge Anthony Calloway adjourned sentencing until June 19, when he will made a written judgement.