Jury to decide on electrician death

A JURY was today due to deliberate whether an Ipswich electrician committed suicide by hooking himself up to 400 volts or whether he died in a tragic work accident.

A JURY was today due to deliberate whether an Ipswich electrician committed suicide by hooking himself up to 400 volts or whether he died in a tragic work accident.

Workmates found the body of John Pennell, 54, known to his friends as Percy, in the loft space of an industrial unit at Claydon Business Park, Gipping Road, Great Blakenham, on November 8 last year.

An inquest into Mr Pennell's death, heard that Adrian Baker, a colleague at communication consultants Ceetech, who are based at the business park, found the father-of-two in the loft space after becoming concerned about him.

During a hearing yesterday at Ipswich Crown Court, Mr Baker said: "I saw Percy in the torchlight. He was lying either on his back or his side and I could see his face.


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"I saw he was holding a cable in his hands. I immediately kicked the cable away."

Mr Baker and Ceetech managing director Kerry Briggs had returned from London late in the afternoon to find Mr Pennell's Toyota car still parked outside.

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Mr Baker told the court that when they left that morning Mr Pennell, was his "usual upbeat self".

When they looked for him they realised no work had been done that day and could find no sign of Mr Pennell.

After a search of the area, they found his body in the loft. The ladder had been pulled up inside preventing access from below.

The cable he was clutching had been connected to a distribution box in a way that meant it was carried to 400 volts.

A statement from Mr Pennell's wife of 34 years, Lil, which was read to the court, said the former well-known footballer was a loving father and grandfather who had never been depressed or suffered any ill health.

Mr Baker told the court that Mr Pennell had no reason to connect the cable for the work he was doing near the unit.

He said: "There was no circuit in the building which would require that voltage."

Forensic expert John Twibell told the court that 240 volts would have been enough to kill Mr Pennell.

He said the cable had been connected in such a way that the black wire, which would normally be connected to a neutral connection, had been connected to a live one, as had the accompanying red wire.

He said in his expert opinion the electrocution had been a deliberate act by Mr Pennell as no competent electrician would have wired the cable in that way.

He added: "I certainly wouldn't think there would be any chance of surviving a shock of that magnitude."

During the hearing members of Mr Pennell's family asked several witnesses whether they thought the father-of-two's death could have been an accident.

During his testimony Mr Twibell said: "To my mind it can only be down to him."

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