Dr James Kew: Runner killed after cable fault reported, inquest hears

Dr James Kew, director of biology in the research department at GlaxoSmithKline Image copyright GlaxoSmithKline
Image caption Dr Kew was a director of biology at GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage

A runner was electrocuted by a damaged power cable minutes after it was reported by a member of the public, an inquest has been told.

James Kew, 41, died of severe burns in a field in Newport, Essex, in July 2012 when he came into contact with a low hanging cable.

A jury inquest into the death of Dr Kew is under way in Chelmsford.

The hearing heard that, at the time, UK Power Networks would isolate a line only after it had an engineer on site.

This policy, the inquest was told, has since been changed.

But in the 14 minutes between the power company verifying the location of the conductor, which was hanging below the required height, Dr Kew had come into contact with it and died.

An engineer sent to fix the cable fault was there at the time of Dr Kew's death.

Switch off

Giving evidence, chartered electrical engineer John Steed, who is also an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, said there had been two similar cases to the one in Newport during the last five years.

He said different power companies had different policies for acting on reports of loose cables from members of the public.

Three of the six companies he spoke to, he said, would switch off a line as soon as they verified a location with the member of the public calling.

The inquest heard the ceramic insulating cap on the cable had a defect which might not have been spotted even under close inspection.

The inquest continues.

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