Electrician’s death ‘was an accident’
AN INQUEST into the death of an electrician who was killed after being electrocuted by a live wire concluded that his death was accidental.
Anthony Thomas, 42, from Neath, was working on the side of a column on the A465 Heads of the Valleys Road, near Merthyr Tydfil, on September 21, 2016, when he was electrocuted.
Attempts were made to revive him by passers-by at the scene and an ambulance was called, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil.
A resumed inquest at Aberdare Coroner’s Court, which began on February 27, previously heard that father-of-one Mr Thomas, known affectionately as “Ajax”, was working for Neath Port Talbot Council and had been tasked with removing a signpost connected to the pole.
Previously giving evidence at the hearing, Mr Thomas’ colleague and Neath Port Talbot council electrician Greg Sinnott described the day of his friend’s death.
He said: “Anthony had work to do on the night shift which I wasn’t part of. I got lunch and Anthony made a head start on the work he had to do that evening.
“I later made my way back towards the depot and Anthony was still at Baverstocks. I asked what the trouble was and he said he was going back and forth between the pillars, so I said I would stay by the feeder pillar to save him from travelling back and forth.
“I said I would telephone him when it was safe to turn it on and off.
“He later drove back up and we discussed something as there was some kind of issue, there was a funny reading on his meter. He then left to go back down and as he was leaving I texted him to remind him the current was still on.”
Aled Gruffydd, assistant coroner for Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, read out an exchange of text messages between Mr Thomas and Mr Sinnott, with the former telling the latter to switch the current on and off.
Mr Gruffydd said: “There’s a gap of 20 minutes after Anthony’s last message and you text him ‘Are you still alive?’”
Mr Sinnott said: “Yes, that’s correct.”
When he looked to see what had happened to his colleague, Mr Sinnott discovered Mr Thomas motionless on the column.
The court heard how an investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which concluded that the cause of the electrocution was down to three things – a wrongly wired lantern, a break in the neutral wire underground and removal of the ground wire.
Forensic scientist Adam Wilson, who gave evidence, found that the neutral wire had been bridged with the earth wire in the pole, which could potentially make the wires in the column live.
This form of wiring is prohibited by the HSE and they suggested this may have been done on purpose to make the lantern work, despite the fault in the neutral wire underground.
On Tuesday, the inquest jury retired to consider their verdicts after being told by Mr Gruffydd that only a conclusion of accidental death could be considered, after submissions for a conclusion of unlawful killing to be considered were turned down due to lack of evidence.
The jury returned a conclusion of accidental death, which was recorded by Mr Gruffydd.
Speaking on behalf of Mr Thomas’ parents Tom and Pat, William Powell said the family were “disappointed” with the conclusion, which they disputed, and would continue to raise the issue with South Wales Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Mr and Mrs Thomas also expressed their thanks to those who helped their son on the day of his death.
Pat and Tom Thomas – parents of Anthony ‘Ajax’ Thomas