Widow's anger after scrapyard tragedy

A WIDOW voiced her anger last night after an inquest into her husband's death heard how he was hit by a falling car when a scrapyard crane snapped.No regular safety inspections had been carried out on the crane and the injuries suffered by Terence Smith, from Grange Close, Halstead, left him paralysed, the inquest heard.

A WIDOW voiced her anger last night after an inquest into her husband's death heard how he was hit by a falling car when a scrapyard crane snapped.

No regular safety inspections had been carried out on the crane and the injuries suffered by Terence Smith, from Grange Close, Halstead, left him paralysed, the inquest heard.

He died at the age of 61 in May 2002 more than three years after the accident – the result of bronchial pneumonia through immobility.

Last night, after a verdict of accidental death was returned, Mr Smith's widow Carole, from Halstead, said: "It should not have happened, it should never have happened."


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The jury in Chelmsford was told Mr Smith was hit by a falling car as he collected spare parts in November 1998 from Halstead Car Spares in Great Yard, Ronald Road.

The inquest jury heard the owner of the firm, Clive Blackwell, 63, of Old Gosfield Airfield, Gosfield, tell Mrs Smith there had not been regular checks or maintenance on the crane.

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Last night, Mrs Smith said: "There has never been any effort to say sorry from Mr Blackwell. How does he sleep at night?"

Essex coroner, Caroline Beasley-Murray, advised the jury to return a verdict of accidental death.

The inquest heard how a crane being operated by Gregory Bloomfield, who had worked at the yard since about 1983, was lifting a Maestro when the chain snapped dropping the vehicle onto another car which struck Mr Smith.

A statement taken in the days after the accident from Mr Bloomfield was read to the inquest.

He said he did not think the crane had an indicator to inform when a load was not safe.

He said, as far as he was aware, the crane had never been inspected by an outside source.

His statement said: "I was operating the crane on a Maestro. Mr Smith had been taking the brakes off a Fiat Uno. The car dropped and I saw the crane's rope had broken."

He added he had not seen Mr Smith but got out of the crane to find him on the ground next to the Uno.

Mr Bloomfield said he would not normally operate the crane when members of the public were on the site.

Mr Blackwell did not witness the accident because he was in his office.

He said there was a sign informing customers they entered the yard at their own risk.

Mrs Smith asked him: "Did you have regular safety checks on that crane?"

Mr Blackwell replied: "No."

Donald Wilson, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, said a report had been completed about five days after the accident.

He said the yard was relatively tidy and vehicles were stacked two cars deep.

"Customers who were more trusted and known would be given permission to remove their own car parts. Those members of the public could be exposed to a safety risk from that," he said.

Mr Wilson added the crane and its chain were in poor condition, there were inadequate maintenance levels and there was an absence of routine inspections.

After the case, Mrs Smith said the family wanted to take civil action, but were struggling to find the funds to do so.

Mr Blackwell said he did not want to comment specifically, but said he had run the yard for 30 years without an accident up to the time of the horrific accident.

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