Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 8°C

min temp: 8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Ipswich/Hadleigh: Heating engineer’s faulty service caused fatal poisoning of Annette Coe, 72, jury told

08:56 18 June 2014

Annette Coe who died of carbon monoxide poisoning

Annette Coe who died of carbon monoxide poisoning

A Suffolk heating engineer’s negligent failure to properly service the boiler of a 72-year-old customer was the cause of her death from carbon monoxide poisoning, a court has heard.


Annette Coe, mother of William Coe who runs Coes stores in Suffolk and Essex, was found collapsed at her Ipswich home in December 2012.

Peter Sykes, 68, a self-employed servicing engineer from Castle Road, Hadleigh, appeared before Norwich Crown Court yesterday charged with her manslaughter.

He also faces three counts of health and safety failings involving Mrs Coe’s boiler and those of customers in Raydon and Woodbridge.

Sykes, who denies all the charges, had serviced Mrs Coe’s oil heating system for about 40 years.

He carried out the last service at her St Edmunds Road property on October 19, 2012 – just 47 days before she was found collapsed and unconscious by her son.

William Carter, prosecuting, told the court that Sykes’ failure to clean the flue of Mrs Coe’s oil-fired heater caused a blockage, which resulted in “poisonous gas circulating around her home at fatal levels”.

“The defendant’s failure was grossly negligent to the extent, the crown alleges, that his actions amount to the criminal offence of manslaughter,” he said.

The court heard that two of Mrs Coe’s daughters, Sarah Licence and Bridget Coe, had raised the alarm on the evening of December 5.

They became concerned after their mother, who lived alone, failed to answer the phone.

Alerted by Bridget, William Coe arrived at the property at around

He noticed the atmosphere in the kitchen seemed “hazy” and
entered to find his mother lying unconscious on the floor, the court was told.

She was taken to hospital, where doctors described the level of carbon monoxide as “extremely high” and said nothing could be done. She died on December 6.

Investigations carried out the following day revealed the flue was “completely blocked” with almost 11kg of debris.

Mr Carter, reporting the inspectors’ conclusions, said the defendant’s service had fallen “far short of the expected standards of competency”.

Inspections of other boilers serviced by Sykes also revealed shortcomings, leading to two further health and safety charges.

Mr Carter said an oil boiler
belonging to Melvyn Smith in Raydon was “declared immediately unsafe”.

And a Mexico gas boiler, which Sykes had been servicing for Mary Blyton at her bungalow in Woodbridge for the past 15 years, was classified as “not simply unsafe, but as immediately dangerous”.

Sykes, who is not on the gas safe register “should not have had anything to with the gas boiler at all”, the court heard.

During police interview after Mrs Coe’s death, Sykes was said to have claimed he carried out a proper service and cleaned the flue.

The trial continues.

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.

The Essex and Herts Air Ambulance

A man was air lifted to hospital with chest pains after he was involved in a two-vehicle crash in Essex.

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

Concern is growing for a 49-year-old woman who has gone missing in Ipswich.

Essex police are investigating a robbery at Jaywick.

An 88-year-old Essex man suffered a broken hip when he was knocked to the ground by robbers who burst into his Jaywick home.

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.

Part of Sue Brooks' photograph of pupils and staff at Fonnereau House School, Ipswich, in 1952. Are you in the picture?

I recently asked readers if they had memories of Fonnereau House School, Ipswich, which was in Fonnereau Road, close to High Street.

Doors reopen on the new look East of England Co-op Daily store in Woodbridge Thoroughfare. Staff members, left to right, Chloe Williams, James Buckles, Shirley Pierce.

Shoppers were greeted by the sight of a new-look Co-op on their high street yesterday, when a Suffolk branch of the store reopened following three weeks of refurbishment.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Digital Edition

Read the East Anglian Daily Times e-edition today E-edition

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24