Birmingham & Black Country

Tahnie Martin inquest: Roof flaws led to death

Tahnie Martin Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Tahnie Martin suffered serious head injuries when the rotten timber fell six storeys

A lack of maintenance on a shopping centre roof contributed to the death of a woman killed during Storm Doris, an inquest jury has concluded.

Tahnie Martin, from Stafford, was hit by a wooden water tank cover in Wolverhampton in February.

The panel - from a mothballed plant room on the Mander Centre - was rotten with corroded fixings and may not have been maintained for almost 20 years.

Jurors sitting in Oldbury recorded a narrative verdict on Friday.

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Ms Martin, 29, who worked at the University of Wolverhampton, died on 23 February after she was struck by the piece of wood from the lid of a redundant water tank, that fell six storeys.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Tahnie Martin had just got engaged before she was killed

Three clasps attached to the tank were found to be "rotten and weather-damaged" during an inspection which found that the lid had come away, jurors were told.

Jurors concluded: "The large, heavy panel which struck Ms Martin became detached from the plant room roof of the building due to strong winds, caused by Storm Doris.

"It became detached due to the absence of maintenance which had resulted in bad rot, corroded and defective fixtures."

The inquest was told Ms Martin was killed just weeks after getting engaged. Her fiancé Shaun Lee said they were planning a family and "she had so much to live for".

The jury had previously heard the panel was blown around "like a piece of paper" for up for 20 seconds.

Image caption Inquest jurors heard at least 21 others were in the vicinity when Ms Martin was struck by the falling lid

After the verdict, Emma Whitting, assistant coroner for the Black Country, told Ms Martin's family attending the hearing: "Tahnie was just embarking on a new, exciting phase of her life, with a job she loved and a marriage planned.

"It was all so suddenly and so cruelly taken away from her by a piece of rotten timber, making its way on to an ordinary shopping street."

The coroner is now sending a prevention of future deaths report to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, to address the apparent lack of requirement for surveyors to indicate building areas which have not been accessed as part of a survey.

Image caption One witness told police the timber reminded her of a square dining table

A separate health and safety investigation by Wolverhampton City Council is continuing.

Mike Hatt, executive partner at Cushman & Wakefield, which manages the Mander Centre, said: "We are taking this incident extremely seriously and have fully cooperated with all the investigating authorities and will continue to do so."

The University of Wolverhampton added Ms Martin was "hugely missed".

External relations director Katharine Clough said: "We feel privileged and honoured to have worked alongside her.

"She was one of our shining stars, a talented and creative marketing professional with an enthusiasm and smile which were infectious."

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