Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 12°C

Search

The pigs are coming. Find out more about

Pigs Gone Wild

here.

Stanton: Inquest into Four Friends tragedy hears how underground cage ‘collapsed’

09:59 11 February 2014

The four men killed in the tragedy, clockwise from top left, Peter Johnson, Tom Hazelton, Adam Taylor and Dan Hazelton.

The four men killed in the tragedy, clockwise from top left, Peter Johnson, Tom Hazelton, Adam Taylor and Dan Hazelton.

Archant

Four Suffolk men were killed after an underground cage they were working in collapsed “like a picnic table”, an inquest heard.

The tragedy unfolded at Claxton Engineering, in North River Road, Great Yarmouth, where a high pressure test bay for offshore components was 
being built.

Daniel Hazelton, 30, and Adam 
Taylor, 28, both of Rickinghall, and Thomas Hazelton, 26, and Peter Johnson, 42, both of Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, died on January 21, 2011.

The men had been working inside a cage below ground level in an excavation the length of a tennis court, the 11-strong jury heard.

The steel structure was to reinforce the concrete base of a unit to test offshore pipes, forming part of a £1.5million new test facility.

John Elvin, for the HSE, described the moment that the cage collapsed with the men inside as a “racking movement” best likened to a “collapsing picnic table”.

While the men were killed more than three years ago, Norfolk’s coroner has yet to record a cause of death following a lengthy police investigation which ruled out manslaughter charges.

Operation Madera, headed jointly by Norfolk police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ran for 13 months and the file was with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London for around a year.

But in February 2013 the CPS ruled that no criminal charges – of individual gross negligence or of corporate manslaughter – would be brought.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Guy, of the joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigations Team, said he had challenged this decision but the result came back the same.

Speaking on the first day of a week-long jury inquest at Sprowston Manor yesterday, Det Ch Insp Guy expressed concern that the case had been passed between lawyers three times.

“I just wanted a separate opinion as after a 13-month investigation I understood things a certain way,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure everything was clearly understood.”

But he conceded that the CPS must have deemed there to be no realistic prospect of securing a conviction.

The HSE has yet to reveal whether a civil case will be pursued.

In a presentation, John Elvin of the HSE said the men were working on the reinforced concrete base of a horizontal test bed when they died.

He said access to the trench was via a ladder, some of the side wall had collapsed and water needed to be pumped out of it.

The area was “marsh land” and had needed piling work earlier in the build, he added.

The site was deemed unsafe for investigation after the deaths due to unsupported side walls, and further piling work was needed.

Mark Aylen, procurement manager for Claxton Engineering, said he had raised concerns about the men working inside the metal cage.

He said he had seen Thomas “squeezing” through and had been concerned it would take him a long time to get out if there was an emergency.

But he said a worker for project builders Encompass had assured him groundwork sub-contractors Hazegood knew how to work properly.

Mr Aylen added: “He jokingly shouted down, ‘I bet you’re glad you went on that diet now Tom’ and he smiled at me.”

He also expressed concern that the edges of the trench were crumbling and that he said staff did not always wear protective eyewear or hard hats.

But he added: “I never thought it was going to collapse.”

Robert Horner, for the families of the deceased men, questioned Mr Aylen’s role in health and safety.

Mr Aylen admitted there had been “no formal handover” when the previous Claxton project manager left for Dubai in October 2010, he had left risk assessment matters to Encompass and did not know Hazegood had been employed as sub-contractors until the day work began.

Scott Wilson Group had designed the test facility, the inquest was told.

Senior coroner Jacqueline Lake is set to hear further evidence today as the inquest continues.

0 comments

A fire crew from Ipswich East attended the incident

The help of firefighters was required at an address near Ipswich, where a woman was accidentally trapped in a bathroom.

The sun shines for the first day of the Suffolk Show 2015.

Tomorrow marks day one of the Suffolk Show 2016 - which promises to be the biggest ever show.

Only drivers with disability badges are permitted to park in the shared space in Felixstowe town centre.

Special constables are to be tasked to carry out random blitz days to tackle problems with illegal parking in Felixstowe town centre.

Matthew Brett freshens up the hay for Theberton Herd cows at the Suffolk Show.

This week we have a team of reporters and photographers at Trinity Park bringing you full coverage of the highlight of the Suffolk agricultural calendar - the Suffolk Show.

Ipswich Town Hall, Ipswich Icons column August 22, 2015

A blue plaque honouring Ipswich’s first female mayor is set to be installed above the entrance to Ipswich Town Hall as part of a project to honour women who have helped shape the town.

On going building work at Kesgrave High School to construct a new coffee shop for the students

Work has begun on a modern new dining and courtyard area at Kesgrave High School, and is expected to be open this September.

Hollesley Bay

Hollesley Bay prison’s Independent Monitoring Board Chairman has pledged continue with her duties despite being ostracised by other board members.

A police car has been involved in a collision.

A police car has collided with the central reservation on the A14 at Woolpit, causing delays on the westbound carriageway.

Floods block Holywells Road, Ipswich

Heavy rain and flooding has caused delays on the road and rail networks across Suffolk this morning, after more than a months worth of rain fell in four hours.

Enjoy a family day out at the Suffolk Show

Looking for ways to entertain the family during the school holidays? Here we bring you a round up of what is on in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and elsewhere in Suffolk, and into north Essex.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24