Special Pc killed in workplace tragedy

A MAN broke down in tears as he told an inquest of the moment he accidentally crushed his colleague between a forklift truck and a lorry.Michael Fenner wept in the witness box as he relived the accident at Mulley's Farm in Little Bromley.

By Annie Davidson

A MAN broke down in tears as he told an inquest of the moment he accidentally crushed his colleague between a forklift truck and a lorry.

Michael Fenner wept in the witness box as he relived the accident at Mulley's Farm in Little Bromley.

Kevin Smith, a seed processor and driver, was killed in the tragedy in November last year as he worked for Anglia Grain Services.


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Mr Smith, who was also a 48-year-old special constable in Hadleigh, Suffolk, and his colleagues Mr Fenner and Adam Doyle were putting wheat through a seed sorting machine.

Mr Fenner, a mobile plant seed operator, told the inquest at Shire Hall in Chelmsford yesterday that the forklift truck was holding a bag up which was filling with grain.

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He noticed that the grain was overflowing and climbed onto the forklift to lift the forks and make more room in the bag.

Fenner, of Woodfield in Assington, broke down in tears as he said: "I went to start the forklift up, as I started it, it lurched forward and I heard a scream. I saw Kevin was there."

The inquest that heard Mr Fenner managed to reverse the forklift away from his colleague but farm foreman Robert Howe had to stop the vehicle for him.

In a statement given after the tragedy, Mr Fenner said he had expected the forklift to be in neutral when he started it up.

Mr Smith, of Elston Walk, Tiptree, who was a special constable for Suffolk Constabulary, died at the scene of the accident despite the efforts of his colleagues to help him.

A post mortem examination found he died of blunt trauma to the chest.

The inquest heard that Ashley Bond, a forklift truck expert, examined the vehicle and found its handbrake was "totally inoperable" although this was not a contributory factor in the accident.

Health and Safety Inspector Martin Kneebone said a reconstruction found that Mr Smith could have stood close to the forklift truck but not been visible to the driver.

He added it was assumed that Mr Smith had gone to the forklift truck to try and stop the overflowing manually at the same time that Mr Fenner got on the vehicle.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

The hearing was told no charges were bought as a result of the accident but new safety procedures had been introduced at Anglia Grain Services.

After the hearing, Stephen Warner of Nayland-based Anglia Grain Services, said: "Kevin was an extremely popular member of staff at Anglia Grain Services and the company has not just lost an experienced and reliable plant operator but has also lost a very special work colleague.

"All of us at the company wish to offer our support to all of the family. Our thoughts are with you, especially Kevin's wife Dawn, his daughter Gemma and ex-wife Diane."

Mr Warner added that his brother Dick Warner, the company's production director, and Mr Smith had known each other from childhood and his brother had "lost a life long friend."

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