In­quest Death of univer­sity lec­turer is ruled an ac­ci­dent

Gloucestershire Echo - - CITIZEN - By JOHN HAWKINS

ACORONER has voiced her con­cern at the lack of elec­tri­cal safety checks on rented prop­er­ties after hear­ing how a re­spected univer­sity lec­turer was elec­tro­cuted by a faulty im­mer­sion heater at his Cotswold farm­house home.

The fam­ily of pop­u­lar Pro­fes­sor John Al­lis­ton, 70, say he would not have died if there had been leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing land­lords to get elec­tri­cal safety cer­tifi­cates on their prop­er­ties.

Mr Al­lis­ton was killed when metal fit­tings in the house he had just rented with his wife Petey be­came ‘live’ due to the lack of safety mea­sures such as a residual cur­rent pro­tec­tion de­vice.

Co­in­ci­den­tally, the gov­ern­ment started con­sid­er­ing the is­sue of elec­tri­cal safety in rented homes not long after the pro­fes­sor’s death in 2017 and a new work­ing party set up to draft leg­is­la­tion is due to meet for the first time later this month.

But fol­low­ing a two-day in­quest this week into Mr Al­lis­ton’s death the Glouces­ter­shire coroner, Katie Sk­er­rett, is now con­sid­er­ing whether to write to the gov­ern­ment rec­om­mend­ing that the pro­posed new leg­is­la­tion is rushed through to pre­vent fu­ture sim­i­lar tragedies.

She said she will con­sider over the next 10 days whether she should send a ‘Pre­vent­ing Fur­ther Deaths’ re­port to the gov­ern­ment.

The in­quest jury recorded a con­clu­sion that Mr Al­lis­ton’s death at Coates, near Cirences­ter, on June 8, 2017 was an ac­ci­dent.

The jury fore­woman stated: “The elec­tri­cal fault was a de­fec­tive heat­ing el­e­ment in the wa­ter boiler, which caused the ex­posed con­duc­tive parts to be­come live.

“On con­tact with a live ex­posed con­duc­tive part, Mr Al­lis­ton was fa­tally elec­tro­cuted.

“This oc­curred due to the ab­sence of Residual Cur­rent Pro­tec­tion, namely Equipo­ten­tial Bond­ing and a Residual Cur­rent De­vice.

“The house was not checked for elec­tri­cal safety prior to rental. There is cur­rently no re­quire­ment un­der leg­is­la­tion for manda­tory elec­tri­cal safety checks for rented prop­er­ties.”

Pro­fes­sor Al­lis­ton’s widow Petey said after the hear­ing: “I think it is ex­tremely im­por­tant, go­ing for­ward, that RCDS are made a le­gal re­quire­ment. Gas Safety is cov­ered by leg­is­la­tion at the mo­ment but not elec­tri­cal.

“I think the in­quest jury have reached the right con­clu­sion. My hus­band was elec­tro­cuted be­cause of var­i­ous in­ad­e­qua­cies and elec­tri­cians not do­ing a safe and proper job in that house.”

“His death is a waste, not just for our fam­ily but for all the peo­ple he helped in the past and all the peo­ple he would have helped in the fu­ture - and there would have been many.”

Pro­fes­sor Al­lis­ton was a lec­turer at the Royal Agri­cul­tural Col­lege, Cirences­ter, where he had worked for 20 years.

More than 600 past and present stu­dents and col­leagues at­tended an event in his memory at the col­lege after his death.

Dur­ing the in­quest Mrs Al­lis­ton told how she re­turned home on June 8 to find her hus­band ly­ing in the back gar­den clutch­ing a piece of wire which had burnt his fin­gers.

He had been elec­tro­cuted while gar­den­ing at the rear of the farm­house they had rented only a week or so ear­lier.

The wire and a length of cop­per pipe pro­truded from the rear and were de­signed to re­lease wa­ter pres­sure if the boiler in­side be­came faulty.

But a health and safety ex­pert told thei nquest that the boiler equip­ment and the pipe and ca­ble had be­come live be­cause of faulty im­mer­sion heater in the boiler. This would have been pre­vented if two safety mea­sures had been in place - an RCD (residual cur­rent de­vice) and earth bond­ing of all the metal equip­ment - to pre­vent elec­tro­cu­tion. But nei­ther sys­tem had been in­stalled.

Vick­to­ria Viniczai, who worked as a care­taker for house owner Bledis­loe Hold­ings Ltd, said the farm­house had not been lived in from 2013 un­til the Al­lis­tons moved in.

It had been painted and re­fur­bished with new bath­room, kitchen and car­pets prior to them ar­riv­ing and was ‘nice and clean.’

There had been no con­cerns about the elec­tric­ity sys­tem in the house that she was aware of, she said.

Pro­fes­sor John Al­lis­ton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.