Elec­tri­cian’s death ‘was an ac­ci­dent’

Cynon Valley - - ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE - PHILIP DEWEY philip.dewey@waleson­line.co.uk

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

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