Tesco fall death ruled ac­ci­den­tal

El­derly man slipped in pud­dle at Chal­font store which was known to have prob­lems with a leak­ing roof

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

Derek Lovett, 91, fell back­wards, hit his head on the floor and suf­fered a car­diac ar­rest.

The re­tired phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal chemist of Bir­kett Way, Chal­font St Giles, was rushed to Wex­ham Park Hos­pi­tal were he was pro­nounced dead at 12.39pm on May 29 this year.

The jury in the three-day in­quest which fin­ished yes­ter­day (Wed­nes­day) was told staff at the Tesco store were aware of the leak­ing roof.

Wit­ness Susie Mo­tion de­scribed how she heard a noise which she thought was Mr Lovett’s head hit­ting the floor and rushed into the next aisle.

“I got there at around 11.30am and af­ter this I heard a noise from that aisle,” she said. “There was a lot of blood on the floor.”

She added: “It was when I bent down near him I looked around and saw the wa­ter.

“Once I’d been sat down by him for a lit­tle while I glanced round, that was when I no­ticed the drip­ping from the ceil­ing.”

Kana­ganayagam Shan­thaku­mar, team leader at the store, opened up the shop that day. He said it had been raining heav­ily that morn­ing.

He added the store oc­ca­sion­ally has prob­lems with leaks from the ceil­ing and at some point be­tween 9am and 10am that morn­ing had mopped up a leak at the end of the sec­ond aisle and placed a bucket un­derneath to catch the drips.

But Mr Shan­thaku­mar said he was not aware of any leak in the aisle where Mr Lovett fell.

He said: “I had cleaned up the leak and, in all my time work­ing here, I had not been aware of the leak around where the man was ly­ing, and I was not aware of any prob­lem there.”

De­scrib­ing the mo­ment he found Mr Lovett he said: “I could see blood which seemed to be com­ing from the back of his head, be­tween his head and the floor.”

Cus­tomer as­sis­tant Peter Cob­den was the only staff mem­ber in the store front at the time of the in­ci­dent.

He said he was told of a leak by a cus­tomer but as­sumed it was the one which Mr Shan­thaku­mar had cleaned up.

It was only when an­other woman told him there was a man ly­ing on the floor did he leave the tills where he was work­ing.

He said com­pany pol­icy was that he was not al­lowed to leave the tills un­til there was an­other mem­ber of staff to re­place him.

“A lady came up to me and said ‘man down, man down, there’s wa­ter on the floor’,” he said.

“I saw there was a man ly­ing on the floor. There was blood com­ing out of the side of his head.

“There was a large pud­dle of wa­ter and blood was go­ing into the wa­ter.”

He added: “I do know that there had been lots of prob­lems with leaks.”

Mr Cob­den added: “Blood was com­ing out the back of his head. He wasn’t mov­ing. I could see it was a very se­ri­ous in­jury.”

Son-in-law Jonathan Wil­mot said Mr Lovett had been ex­cited about his trip to Tesco to buy fudge and tof­fee.

He told the jury he had seen wa­ter drip­ping from the ceil­ing near to where his fa­ther in law had slipped.

Mr Wil­mot de­scribed Mr Lovett as ‘ir­ri­tat­ingly or­dered’ and ‘bright as a but­ton’,able to walk with­out his stick for half a mile.

Dr Duncan Dy­mond, con­sul­tant car­di­ol­o­gist, said: “I be­lieve that it’s very prob­a­ble that the late Mr Lovett sus­tained a se­vere emo­tional shock or fright from his fall, lead­ing to the car­diac ar­rest.”

As­sis­tant Coroner Crispin Giles But­ler said: “This pool of wa­ter was not the same leak that Mr Ku­mar had mopped up some two hours ear­lier.”

The jury reached its con­clu­sion yes­ter­day (Wed­nes­day) af­ter a three day in­quest and recorded a ver­dict of ac­ci­den­tal death.

Mr Wil­mot said that he has sub­se­quently bought the fudge and tof­fee that Mr Lovett went to buy.

“It still hangs in the kitchen at home, as a re­minder of the won­der­ful man,” he said.

Af­ter the in­quest, a Tesco spokesman said: “We are sad­dened by the tragic death of Mr Lovett and once again send our con­do­lences to his fam­ily and friends.

“We take our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to keep cus­tomers and col­leagues safe in our stores very se­ri­ously, and we recog­nise that Mr Lovett en­tered our store and died on our premises. For this we are deeply sorry.”

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