Deaths in 2002
Click on the names below for further case details
North Sea Helicopter Crash 16 July 2002
FURTHER DETAILS OF DEATHS
Paul was driving a tractor at Swanton Hall near North Walsham helping fellow worker Douglas Duffy to erect gates and fencing. He got out of the vehicle, leaving the engine running. The tractor moved forward pinning Paul beneath the wheels.
Samantha Gutteridge, a Health and Safety inspector, said, 'We can only assume he stopped the tractor to get out but hadn't turned the ignition off or removed the key. Perhaps his foot or knee hit the gear stick, moving the tractor forward when he was alighting and hence the tractor would have gone over him.'
The inquest was held on 18 January 2002 at Norwich Coroner's Court and returned a verdict of 'Misadventure' .
Roger, a metal cutting supervisor, was killed when a crane dropped a one ton metal sheet on him as he cut metal with his back to the crane, in an area of the scrapyard designated for heavy lifting. He should have moved to a safety zone like two other workers. The crane driver Jonathan Tooke stopped the equipment when he saw Roger but a sheet of metal slipped out of the claw. The sheet measuring 2m by 1.5m and 1.5cm thick was so heavy it had to be lifted off by Mr Tooke using the crane.
Robert Ireland, his brother, claimed Roger was concerned about only having a plastic helmet and that he had warned his employers the crane was too close to workers. 'He had warned them something like this might happen,' he added. 'I hope that by speaking out like this I can save someone else from dying.'
An inquest at Norwich Coroner's Court on 19 November 2002 returned a verdict of 'Accidental Death' .
Andre Serruys, managing director of Easco faced health and safety charges brought by the Health and Safety Executive. The case was transferred due its severity from the magistrates court to Norwich Crown Court.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Easco's failure to implement adequate safety measures had contributed to the accident. The firm had outdated health and safety manuals relating to another company, which had been taken over by Easco, in Coventry. Just before Roger was killed a newly appointed health and safety officer at Easco had criticised its lack of safety training and procedures. Carl Griffin, who has since resigned from his position, stated in a report to Easco's directors that its employees could not be expected to care about following correct procedures if the company did not.
Pascal Bates, prosecuting on behalf of the HSE, said the crane driver was not trained, he was not being appropriately supervised and there were no safe systems of work documented or systems devised. He said a risk assessment by an independent organisation nearly two years before Mr Ireland was killed had pinpointed dangers relating to lifting procedures and recommended improvements. But none of these had been completed by the time of the incident.
'Had these preventative control measures been put fully and properly in force Mr Ireland, the deceased, would be alive today,' he said.
On 25 March 2004 Easco was criticised for taking a "slack view" of safety regulations and was fined a total of £30,000 at Norwich Crown Court after Andre Serruys, the managing director, had previously admitted two charges relating to safety measures at the firm.
He admitted that on April 19, 2002, the company failed to ensure operations involving lifting equipment had been properly planned, supervised and carried out. He also admitted that between July 1, 2000, and April 20, 2002, Easco had failed to implement recommendations from a risk assessment. Easco was also ordered to pay costs of nearly £16,000.Passing sentence, Mr Justice Aikens said Easco and its directors took a 'slack view' of their responsibilities, stating that the firm had increased the chances of a serious accident taking place by failing to take proper safety procedures. But he was also critical of Roger's actions, saying, 'Most unfortunately, Mr Ireland did not take as much care over the issue of safety as he should have done.'
Edward, a farmer, died while repairing a track across marshes at a farm in Ingham where he had worked with his brother Jonathan for more than 25 years. The soggy ground underneath the JCB load gave way and the vehicle toppled over and was submerged in a ditch.
An inquest was held on 19 November 2002 at Norwich Coroner's Court The coroner William Armstrong in directing the jury to record a verdict of 'Accidental Death' said, 'Edward Deane was a careful, conscientious and responsible person not inclined to take risks to his safety or anybody else's. This was a freak occurrence.'
North Sea Helicopter Crash
Please see 2002 table for names and details of the deceased
The nine passengers and two crew on board the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter died when the aircraft crashed two miles from the Santa Fe Monarch gas drilling rig and 25 miles north-east of Great Yarmouth. The helicopter had left Norwich Airport at 7pm Thursday 16 July to ferry oil rig workers and flew to the Clipper platform, from where it was due to continue to the Santa Fe Monarch rig.
The inquest into 10 deaths (the eleventh body still being unrecovered) opened on 31 October at the Great Yarmouth Coroner's Court sitting in the Burrage Centre, Gorleston before coroner Keith Dowding.
The hearing was told a "catastrophic mechanical failure" of one of the Sikorsky S-76A's main rotor blades caused the crash 28 miles off Cromer. Air accident investigator Jeremy Barnett told the inquest First Officer Philip Dearden, 32, who was flying the helicopter, said to Captain Philip Wake words to the effect, 'We are picking up quite a lot of vibration,' about seven minutes into the flight. The two had a short discussion about the vibration and shortly afterwards two very loud bangs were heard.
A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) concluded it crashed after one of its main rotor blades failed.
Mr Barnett, who investigated the crash on behalf of the AAIB, said a small manufacturing anomaly in one of the craft's blades was exacerbated when it had been struck by lightning some years later. The damage was not detectable when the part was returned to its manufacturer for assessment and the decision was taken to repair the blade which was then returned to service. Mr Barnett said the work was carried out by Sikorsky honourably, sensibly and with good judgment and the accident was 'one of those million to one combinations'.
The helicopter pilots had carried out a visual check of the aircraft and a licensed engineer had also inspected it before take off. 'I have no doubt the aircraft was properly inspected. Our professional assessment is that no-one would have seen the crack,' he added.
New measures to improve safety had been introduced since the crash, he said.
A passenger on board the helicopter on the first leg of its journey told the inquest the helicopter had been vibrating so badly on take off it was 'the worst flight I have ever been on'.
Offshore consultant Christopher Davies told the court, 'When the helicopter was started it seemed to take an eternity to get to running speed. It was making a lot more vibration than what I was used to. It was so severe that I couldn't even see the pictures, let alone read the words of the magazine I had.'
The jury returned a verdict of 'Accidental Death' on 2 November 2005.
David, a tree surgeon, is thought to have died when a rotten branch he was harnessed to broke, trapping him underneath. Fire crews used airbags to lift the tree so that David could be freed, but he had suffered fatal injuries and was certified dead at the scene.
An inquest was held at Norwich Coroner's Court on 28 March 2003 when a verdict of 'Misadventure' was returned.
Francis worked in swine farming. While moving piglets on 17 September he slipped and fell on a metal rod which went through his brain. He died the following day.
An inquest was held on 30 December 2002 at Norwich Coroner's Court. The Coroner William Armstrong, in the absence of a jury, recordned a verdict of 'Accidental Death'.
Richard worked as a volunteer at the Muckleburgh Collection in Weybourne. He was observed by a friend , a co-volunteer, sliding down a do-it-yourself loft ladder he had acquired to access storage space at the military museum and falling backwards. He was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where he died two days later. A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as a severe head injury due to the fall but could give no conclusion as to the cause of the fall
An inquest was held on 6 November 2002 at Norwich Coroner's Court when the coroner William Armstrong recorded a verdict of 'Misadventure'.
Ian, a farm foreman, was hit by a reversing forklift at White Hall Farm in Crownthorpe, Wymondham and died from severe head and multiple injuries.
An inquest was held on 2 May 2003 at the Norwich Coroner's Court.
The hearing heard that Ian was on his hands and knees removing from timber from an area where machinery was being moved and did not hear the reverse bleeper of the forklift as it moved towards him. Driver Peter Tucker said he neither saw nor heard anything until he felt a bump.
Health and Safety inspector John Willbourne said the accident could have been prevented if proper safety guidelines had been in place. He said there had been 'no visible barrier' – such as cones – around Mr Lemin as he carried out his work which could have alerted the driver to his presence.
Coroner William Armstrong expressed his sympathy to Ian's widow and added, 'She has lost her husband in a tragedy which should never have happened.'
A verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Simon, a steel erector, died after falling through a roof at Diss, Norfolk. Simon fell 8m on to a concrete floor and was airlifted to hospital where he died that day.
An inquest was held on 2 October 2003 at the Norwich Coroner's Court when a verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
In November 2004 at Norwich Crown Court Reads Construction admitted failing to ensure Simon's health and safety. Judge Paul Downes ordered the firm to pay a £20,000 fine and £31,693 in costs.
Craig Rush, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), told the court that the work to remove and re-fit skylights at the factory was a minor job. Reads Construction had submitted a quote for the work which included the use of safety netting and a platform hoist. But only a cherry picker was provided and that was not tall enough so Simon used crawling boards to access the skylight, the court was told.
An expert testifying for the HSE said the risk was 'foreseeable and obvious' and there had been inadequate planning and preparation for the job.
The judge commented, 'It seems at least likely that, being the expert he was, Mr Jaggard realised the company had provided the wrong equipment but with his great experience had tried to tackle what was a relatively small job.'
John, a pub landlord, died after chest injuries after being crushed between a coach and a trailer. He also ran a coach travel business from the site.
He was thought to be preparing to clean the coach at the time of the incident.
Julian Halls, senior environmental health officer at Broadland District Council, said the most likely explanation was John had started the coach engine and left it running, not engaged the handbrake, and the air pressure built up to a point where the brakes disengaged. The coach was parked on a slope and would have moved quickly.
'Because the engine was running, it was reasonable to believe that he didn't hear the coach moving,' he said. 'He was found facing the trailer, having been hit from behind.'
The inquest was held at Norwich Coroner's Court on 3 December 2003 when an 'Accidental Death' verdict was returned.
Eva, a trapeze artist and experienced circus performer, died after falling 30 feet during a performance at the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth. Eva was descending from the rigging area of the roof above the circus, as she began her act, when she appeared to lose her grip on the wire above her head and plunged to the ground.
An inquest was held at Great Yarmouth Coroner's Court on 7 October 2004.
The inquest was told by Home Office pathologist Michael Heath that it was very possible Eva was unconscious. Although the events would have happened very quickly, he said, she would have been expected to have retained her grip or shouted.
Health and Safety experts also ruled out any problems with the 'descender' which Eva had been using at the time. They said there was no evidence the equipment, which had been bought from the Millennium Dome, had malfunctioned.
After an eight-hour hearing the jury returned a verdict of 'Accidental Death'.
On 21 December 2004 Peter Jay and his wife Christine, directors of Jays UK which owns the Hippodrome circus, were found guilty at Great Yarmouth Magistrates of breaches of health and safety legislation, which they had admitted, and were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 costs.
The charges related to failing to ensure the safety of their employees and visitors to the circus.
Kevin was a foreman at the M W White Ltd factory, Norfolk's largest paper bank operator, at Ketteringham near Wymondham. He died while working with his son Jason and another colleague to clear a blockage inside a paper hogger (shredder) at the site when the machine malfunctioned, Jason was pulled out of the hogger but his father was fatally injured. The machine contained a series of hammers projecting 15cm from a shaft which revolved at high speed.
An inquest opened at the Norwich Coroner's Court in January 2004 and was adjourned. A joint investigation by Norfolk Constabulary CID and the Health and Safety Executive led to a charge of corporate manslaughter being brought against Mr Paul White the owner in relation to his corporate responsibility. The extensive investigation revealed that the machine was not securely isolated whilst the unblocking work was being carried out (there was no local electrical isolator provided for the machinery), there was no safe system for such work and the electrical controls for the machine were contaminated with dust.
Mr White appeared at the Norwich Crown Court in November 2004. The case was adjourned until 2005 when he admitted the manslaughter charge and also, as director of the firm, of failing to ensure the workers' safety.
On 16 September 2005 Mr White received a one year jail sentence. His company was also fined £30,000 with costs of £55,000.
Commenting on the case, Minister for Health and Safety, Lord Hunt said, 'Tragic incidents in the workplace such as this are totally preventable. All employers must make the welfare of their employees a top priority by ensuring that safe systems of work are provided and maintained. There is also a need to make certain that employees are properly instructed in how to operate machinery to guard against any threat of injury or death.'
HSE investigating Principal Inspector, Paul Carter said, 'This was a horrific incident that was entirely foreseeable. Isolating the machinery, a safe system of work for clearing blockages, together with adequate instruction, training and supervision of Paul White's staff would have prevented this incident. Evidence showed that Paul White chose not to follow the advice of his health and safety consultant and instead adopted a complacent attitude allowing the standards in his paper recycling business to fall.
'I encourage all employers to take a fresh look at their business activities, review their risk assessments to ensure that sensible control measures are in place and that employees understand what is expected of them.'
In March 2007 Kevin's widow Melly launched a High Court claim for more than £400,000 compensation.
Deaths of Timothy Bartrum, Graham Morris and George Barnes
Timothy fell into a 15' slurry tank after being overcome by fumes. Graham together with George leaped into the slurry tank, to help him. All three men, who worked for Enviro-Waste Ltd of Thetford, died in the tank, after becoming overcome by noxious fumes, the effect of too much carbon dioxide in a confined space.
The inquest held at Norwich Coroner's Court opened on 2 March 2005.
The hearing heard how Daniel Wilmott risked his life twice attempting to rescue his workmates, who were overcome by the fumes 'within seconds' of entering the vat sited in a field at Great Hockham, near Thetford.
It also heard that the employer, Enviro-Waste, had no risk assessments or any other written safety measures to guide its employees if someone entered tanks or fell in.
HSE inspector Eddie Scoggins said the slurry was in the process of decomposing and was giving off certain gases, such as carbon dioxide, which in a confined space could 'no longer support life'. He estimated the men had lost consciousness within 30 seconds of entering the tank. The tank contained 18 inches of chicken waste being used to fertilise nearby fields.
Mr Scoggins believed that cleaning the tank stirred up the fermentation process, which meant there was even more carbon dioxide.
After recording verdicts of misadventure for each of the three deaths, the coroner Mr Armstrong said, 'Without trespassing on matters that may need to be addressed elsewhere, it is amazing that such a situation can occur in a highly developed society where there should be such emphasis on health and safety. These men were simply doing their jobs. There is no getting away from it; they died unbelievably horrible deaths.'
He said both Mr Barnes and Mr Morris acted with great bravery and said Mr Willimott put himself in 'grave danger' in the attempt to rescue his colleagues.
A verdict of 'Misadventure' was returned in all three cases.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Inspectors said after the inquest that they were considering prosecuting Enviro-Waste.
In February 2007 Roger Clark, a director, and general manager Gordon Betts of Thetford-based Enviro-Waste Ltd were each fined £10,000 after admitting breaching workplace health and safety legislation. The firm was separately fined £72,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs.
Yvonne Barnes, George's mother, criticised the fines meted out to the individual directors. Yvonne pointed out the fines represented less than £3,400 per victim of the tragedy. , while the judge in the case took the highly unusual step of defending his sentence, following a report of the case by the BBC.
She said, 'It is disgusting, you could not even buy a car or new kitchen for that. We are absolutely disgusted. They did get off extremely lightly. It is very upsetting to say the least. We were just stunned.'
Yvonne Barnes described her son as a 'hero' for trying to save the life of his colleague Timothy, losing his own in the process. She said she did not have the resources to challenge the law over the sentences passed for health and safety breaches that resulted in the deaths of workers.
in a statement released after the trial Judge Peter Jacobs said, 'Normally I would not comment further on any case I have sentenced but in view of the criticism made of me on BBC Radio Norfolk I would point out that in fixing the level of fines, which was the only penalty available, I have to take into account the ability to pay.'
Eddie Scoggins, HSE Principal Inspector, said after the sentencing, 'These three deaths should make clear to all, the extremely dangerous nature of the work in confined spaces. There have now been seven deaths from confined spaces incidents in the East of England since 2003. If any proof was needed, this shows that any work in confined spaces is extremely hazardous.
'Proper precautions must always be taken at all times for this kind of work. Don't enter unless you absolutely have to. If you are going to enter a confined space then you must have fully trained staff, a documented system of work, atmospheric monitoring and emergency rescue arrangements. There may be no oxygen inside, or toxic gases may have built up.
'The HSE wishes to make it clear that we expect the risks associated with this type of work to be properly managed in accordance with published guidance, whatever the size of the company. We will continue to take action against those who flout the law and put people's lives at risk.'
Geoffrey was a heating engineer working alone on domestic premises in Hingham, Norfolk. His death followed a fall from a ladder.
The inquest was held at Norwich and District Coroner's Court on 28 February 2005 when when a verdict of 'Misadventure' was returned.