ELO cellist Mike Edwards's hay bale death 'preventable'

Mike Edwards Mike Edwards was in ELO between 1972 and 1975

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The death of a 1970s rock star who was crushed when a giant hay bale rolled on to his car was "easily preventable", a court has been told.

Mike Edwards, 62, was driving on the A381 near Totnes, Devon, in September 2010 when the 600kg bale rolled down a steep field and crushed his vehicle.

The former ELO cellist died instantly.

Brian Burden, 46, of Bickleigh Farm, Halwell, and Russell Williams, 23, of Forces Cross, Blackawton, deny two health and safety charges.

Prosecutor Rupert Lowe told Plymouth Crown Court that farmer Mr Burden and agricultural contractor Mr Williams did not deliberately cause Mr Edwards's death, but were in the dock over the way they carried out their work.

Mr Lowe told the jury: "They are both decent, hard-working men who you would never expect to be in a court like this."

He described how the huge cylindrical bale rolled down the steep hill in Long Lands field on to the busy A381 at Halwell on 3 September.

The van after it had been crushed The cylindrical bale crushed the roof of Mr Edwards's van, killing him instantly

The jury was shown footage of how a baler works and the field down which the bale rolled.

Mr Lowe said: "You can just see how steep it is going down to that main road.

"Russell Williams told investigators he put the offending bale somewhere half way down the field, that is the bale that landed on the unfortunate Mike Edwards."

He added: "Once a bale rolls down a hill there is nothing to stop it. It is a risk you cannot afford to take."

The trial continues.

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