Stanton/Great Yarmouth: Cases could still be brought over deaths of four friends on Claxton Engineering’s site

Adam Taylor who died in the Claxton Engineering accident at Great Yarmouth;

Adam Taylor who died in the Claxton Engineering accident at Great Yarmouth; - Credit: Archant

Prosecutions could still be made following the death of four men in a tragic industrial accident, an inquest hearing has been told.

Claxton tragedy - Peter Johnson

Claxton tragedy - Peter Johnson - Credit: Archant

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.

Thomas Hazelton who died in the Claxton Engineering accident at Great Yarmouth with baby Alfie;

Thomas Hazelton who died in the Claxton Engineering accident at Great Yarmouth with baby Alfie; - Credit: Archant

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.

Daniel Hazleton who died in the Claxton Engineering accident at Great Yarmouth; pictured in 2007

Daniel Hazleton who died in the Claxton Engineering accident at Great Yarmouth; pictured in 2007 - Credit: Archant

The four men were working 4ft underground when they were crushed by the structure.

At a pre-inquest hearing at Carrow Road stadium yesterday, coroner Jacqueline Lake told the hearing that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was still considering whether to make prosecutions over the incident.

She said she was eager for any inquest not to influence those prosecutions, with the potential for witnesses to incriminate themselves in evidence.

However, she said the inquest had already been delayed and that a hearing may have to go ahead regardless.

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The HSE was criticised by solicitors at the hearing for dragging their feet.

Malcolm Savory, from Birketts for Claxton Engineering, questioned why a decision on prosecutions had not been made six months ago.

“It’s been two years and 10 months since the incident and you really wonder what on earth more the HSE need to make up its mind,” he said.

Mrs Lake said she did not have the power to force the HSE into speeding up its decision-making.

Shauna Ritchie, on behalf of HSE, said the agency was dealing with “voluminous” amounts of evidence and taking time over any decision was essential.

“We are not obliged to make any decisions at this point and we could sit back and wait for the outcome of the inquest,” she said.

Mrs Lake said two more pre-inquest hearings would be held on December 13 and 24 in order for an update to be given by HSE.

A full inquest is expected in February.

Mrs Lake also told the hearing that HSE had decided not to bring prosecutions against several parties involved in the incident.

They included Matt Hazelton and Neil Gooderham, who founded Hazegood Construction in February 2008 and employed the four men.

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