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Distress over son's death lingers

PUBLISHED: 04:10 19 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:22 03 March 2010

FOUR years after Suffolk welder Stephen Osborne was killed in a horrific accident at work, his distraught father still visits his grave everyday.

Peter, 66, and his wife Sheila, 64, simply can't come to terms with the death of their only son.

FOUR years after Suffolk welder Stephen Osborne was killed in a horrific accident at work, his distraught father still visits his grave everyday.

Peter, 66, and his wife Sheila, 64, simply can't come to terms with the death of their only son. The couple cry every day and say the terrible events of July 1998 have destroyed their lives forever.

"If you have never suffered the loss of a child you can't understand it. It's like a hole in the chest. I don't think a day goes by when we don't talk about him," said retired shop assistant Mrs Osborne.

"I kiss his photograph every day and I visit his grave, that's my way of being closer to him," said her husband, a retired food factory supervisor.

"If I don't speak to him every day I sort of feel I have let him down. I have prayed for death, sometimes I want to be with him so much I feel I can't carry on.

"The only relief you get is when you sleep but when you get up in the morning or if you wake up in the night it's right there, bang, Stevie's gone."

Their 34-year-old son, a former pupil at Chantry High School, in Ipswich, was fatally injured when the back end of a two tonne metal mast he was trying to secure to a trailer came loose and crashed on top of him while he was working on the Riverside Industrial Park in Ipswich.

Perspective Engineering Ltd was fined £70,000 after admitting breaching health and safety regulations – the couple of Leggatt Drive, Bramford are trapped in grief and overwhelmed with anger.

"£70,000 is a small price to pay for what we have suffered. It's been a terrible ordeal. I hate them, the whole lot of them.

"If we won the lottery we would take everyone responsible back to court. They should have been done for manslaughter. I feel we would be doing justice for Stephen, not for us.

"He wouldn't expect us to take this sitting down," said Mrs Osborne.

The couple, who also have a daughter Linda, aged 45, are furious that police officers never attended the accident scene.

They were told that Suffolk Police, in line with national advice, were not attending industrial accidents unless a death had occurred at the scene. Their son died in the intensive care unit of Addenbrooke's hospital, Cambridge, six days after the accident and his family believe they will never completely understand what happened that morning.

Just one month after the tragedy, the policy on police attendance at industrial accidents changed and Health and Safety executive relies on police to provide emergency cover.

The inquest into the incident revealed the company had allowed one of its employees to drive the fork lift truck, which placed the 13-meter metal tube on to the lorry, without the proper qualifications.

Every time the family hears of another industrial accident it brings it all back to the surface for them.

Perspective Engineering Ltd has told The Evening Star about improved Health and Safety procedures, including the creation of a new position, a health and safety manager – but Mr Osborne added: "They had to wait till somebody died before died before they did something.

"It seems everything was against my boy that day."

Stephen's wife Nicola and his two children, Cameron, four, and Connor, eight, have moved away from Ipswich to start a new life – but his parents can't leave the nightmare behind.

"He was such a character, he would light up your house when he came in," recalls Sheila, breaking down in tears again.

"He would never leave here without a kiss. Even though he was 34-years-old he would never leave home without kissing goodbye.

"When you work with life threatening equipment you should have safety measures in place at all times, not bring them in after an accident. It's too late then."

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