Stanton/Rickinghall: Coroner wants no further delays for inquest into the death of four men

A fund was set up after the four men from Stanton and Rickinghall died A fund was set up after the four men from Stanton and Rickinghall died

Friday, December 13, 2013
5:53 PM

A coroner has warned that she does not want to see an inquest into the deaths of four men in a tragic industrial accident delayed any further by the Health and Safety Executive dragging its feet.

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Daniel Hazelton, 30, Thomas Hazelton, 26, Peter Johnson, 41, and Adam Taylor, 28, died on January 21, 2011 on an engineering site in Great Yarmouth.

The men, from Stanton and Rickinghall in Suffolk, were killed while working on Claxton Engineering’s site on North River Road when a steel structure collapsed, crushing them.

Jacqueline Lake, Norfolk Coroner, told a pre-inquest hearing in Norwich yesterday that she was eager for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to decide whether it was going to make prosecutions in the case in order that a full inquest can be confirmed for February.

She said: “I really need to know if there are going to be prosecutions made so I can warn witnesses that they risk incriminating themselves at inquest.

“There’s a risk the inquest could be put back if the HSE doesn’t make a decision and I really don’t want that to happen.”

Solicitor Shauna Ritchie, on behalf of HSE, told the hearing that the body was doing all it could to expedite the process, having been handed over evidence from the police in May this year.

She said the HSE was still looking at speaking to witnesses.

“We have to look at the evidence afresh in terms of making any prosecutions and I can assure you we are working as fast as we can.

“There’s been no shortage of effort on our behalf but it’s a complex process and the HSE is concerned that these decisions are made properly,” she said.

Ms Ritchie said a report on the HSE’s progress had been produced and presented to the coroner.

A further pre-inquest hearing will be held on December 24.

It has already been decided that a number of parties will not be prosecuted for the incident, including Matt Hazelton and Neil Gooderham, who founded Hazegood Construction in February 2008 and employed the four men.