max temp: 11°C

min temp: 10°C


Hadleigh/Ipswich: Heating engineer Peter Sykes claims sudden system failure led to Annette Coe’s death from carbon monoxide poisoning

11:25 01 July 2014

Annette Coe who died of carbon monoxide poisoning

Annette Coe who died of carbon monoxide poisoning

A Suffolk heating engineer accused of killing a customer by failing to properly service their boiler has attributed the deadly build up of poisonous gas to a sudden malfunction he could not have foreseen.


Peter Sykes, 68, told Norwich Crown Court he had thoroughly cleaned Annette Coe’s oil-fired heating system during an annual service on October 19, 2012 – just 47 days before she was found collapsed at her home in St Edmunds Road, Ipswich.

Mrs Coe, the 72-year-old mother of William Coe who runs Coes stores in Suffolk and Essex, was pronounced dead from carbon monoxide poisoning the following morning, December 6.

Sykes, who denies manslaughter by gross negligence, is accused of not clearing the chimney flue thereby allowing poisonous gas to circulate Mrs Coe’s home at fatal levels.

Giving evidence yesterday, Sykes, of Castle Road, Hadleigh, claimed a sudden fracture in the heat exchanger – where fresh air meets heated air – had caused the failure as it was the only part of the system he had been unable to check. He said it was not practically possible to do so.

However Sykes insisted he had carried out a thorough inspection of the system on October 19 and also claimed it was clean and operational when he returned to the property on December 3 to fit a replacement solenoid coil.

The self-employed heating engineer, who had carried out annual inspections at the house for more than 40 years, gave the court a detailed account of the steps taken during an inspection, the tools he used and the checks made to ensure adequate safety.

He said he followed a methodical routine from which he never deviated and would always check the flue and chimney for blockages.

“That would be the most important thing,” he said. “It’s a case of life and I value life a lot more than just skipping and skiving on a routine.”

Sykes also denies three further health and safety charges relating to Mrs Coe’s heating system and two other customers.

He disputed expert accounts of failures found in the heating system belonging to Melvyn Smith in Raydon.

And he said the high carbon monoxide readings found in Mary Blyton’s gas heating system in Woodbridge could be explained by the 15 month interval since his last inspection.

Although he admitted he should not have been servicing gas systems at all as he was no longer registered to do so, he said he only did it for friends.

Sykes told the court he had not worked since Mrs Coe’s death and said he had received more than 100 letter of support from customers thanking him for his service.

The trial continues.

Former Ipswich Town manager Sir Bobby Robson

An online auction launched in memory of Ipswich Town and England legend Sir Bobby Robson has raised more than £160,000 for charity.

Bad weather in Felixstowe.

Properties are at risk from flooding at Bawdsey Quay and Felixstowe Ferry, the Environment Agency has warned.

Ipswich Crown Court.

A 67-year-old west Suffolk garage owner who sexually assaulted and raped three schoolgirls more than 25 years ago has been jailed for 19 years.

Some of the UCS Choir members who will be appearing on Songs of Praise on television

University Campus Suffolk’s new choir is to appear on BBC Songs of Praise

Felixstowe mayor Doreen Savage switches on the lights helped by Elise Gorski, Peggy Osborne, and Ash and Lila Tadjrishi.

It’s a problem faced by millions of families across the country every year.

The close-knit Smith family in 2006: Matt, Wendy, Nikki and Barry

It can be upsetting and lonely having a child with a disability, but Wendy Smith would rather shout about the many positives. Steven Russell hears how love and kindness trumps any anger and bitterness

Domestic violence reports increase

Domestic violence reports soared by 12% in Suffolk last year with more than 2,000 recorded incidents involving male victims, police have said.

Woman conned by bogus caller (Stock photo)

A Hadleigh woman who lost £2,500 in a police scam has warned others to be alert to the crime.

Members of the nursing team at Ipswich Hospital.

Carers and visitors of people being looked after at Ipswich Hospital will next month be able to spend more time with patients as new extended visiting hours are introduced.

She was last seen in the area of Downside Close in Ipswich.

A woman reported missing to police on Saturday has been found safe and well following a public appeal.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Local business directory

Suffolk's trusted business finder

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Digital Edition

Read the Ipswich Star e-edition today E-edition

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24