Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 5°C

min temp: 1°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Heating engineer cleared of manslaughter

10:59 10 July 2014

Annette Coe who died of carbon monoxide poisoning

Annette Coe who died of carbon monoxide poisoning

A Suffolk heating engineer accused of killing a customer by failing to properly service their boiler has been cleared of manslaughter.

shares

Peter Sykes, 68, was found guilty on Tuesday of health and safety failings relating to work he carried out for Annette Coe, 72, who later died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Yesterday, following three days of deliberation, the jury at Norwich Crown Court found him not guilty of the more serious charge of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Mrs Coe, 72, the mother of William Coe who runs Coes stores in Suffolk and Essex, was found collapsed at her property in St Edmunds Road, Ipswich, on December 5, 2012 – 47 days after Sykes last serviced her oil-fired heating system. She was pronounced dead the following day.

William Carter, for the prosecution, had argued that Sykes’ failure to clear the flue during an annual inspection on October 19, 2012, 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.

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

They became concerned after their mother, who lived alone, failed to answer the phone, and contacted William Coe, their brother, who arrived at the property at around 11pm.

He entered to find his mother lying unconscious on the floor and attempted resuscitation before paramedics took her to hospital.

Doctors described the level of carbon monoxide as “extremely high” and said nothing could be done. She died on December 6.

Sykes, of Castle Road, Hadleigh, insisted he had carried out a proper service in October and claimed it was also clean and operational when he returned on December 3 to fit a replacement solenoid coil.

The self-employed heating engineer, who had been servicing Mrs Coe’s boiler for more than 40 years, maintained that a sudden fracture with the heat exchanger – where fresh air meets heated air – had led to the blockage.

He said he followed a methodical routine from which he never deviated and would always check the flue and chimney for blockages.

“That would be the most important thing,” he said.

“It’s a case of life and I value life a lot more than just skipping and skiving on a routine.”

The jury, however, found him guilty under the Health and Safety at Work Act Section 3 (2) for failing to undertake his duty in such a way as to prevent exposing Mrs Coe to risks to her health and safety.

Sykes was also found guilty under the same act in respect to boiler inspections he carried out at Melvyn Smith’s property in Raydon and Mary Blyton’s gas heating system in Woodbridge.

He will return to court for sentencing at a later date.

shares

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

The accident happened on the A12 at Chelmsford

All lanes have now reopened on the A12 at Chelmsford following an accident in which a man died this morning.

Ryan Fraser in agony clutching his hamstring on the sideline at the end of the QPR match

Ipswich Town loanee Ryan Fraser is set to be sidelined for six to eight weeks with the hamstring injury he sustained in the latter stages of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at QPR.

Work has started in Colchester to clean up the chewing gum on the streets.
L-R Lee Western,Cllr Beverley Oxford,Cllr Tim Young,Cllr Bill Frame.

Streets in central Colchester are being deep cleaned in a bid to free them of chewing gum.

Stafford Whiston (left) with murdered son Jay Whiston (right)

The father of a murdered Essex teenager was confronted by a knife-wielding man who came into his shop and threatened to kill him, a court has heard.

Sunny afternoon here in Felixstowe

Here we bring you the biggest stories from around East Anglia - as well as your photos of the day.

Delegates at an Innovation Martlesham event this week celebrating the inclusion of Ipswich in the new TechNation report on the UK's leading technology clusters.

Digital businesses in and around Ipswich are worth nearly £200million to the local economy and employ nearly 10,000 people, according to a new study.

Stick-on artist’s impression of Ipswich station refurbishment

Passengers waiting to board trains at Ipswich may have noticed hoardings depicting the station’s soon-to-be refurbished ticket office.

Most read

Fred Olsen Travel Sale

cover

Click here to view
the Fred Olsen
Travel Sale

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24