Bell-ringer sues Abingdon church over ankle break

Image source, PA
Image caption, Trainee engineer Steven Tomsett fell about 20ft when he was pulled into the air

A bell-ringer who broke both ankles in a 20ft (6m) fall after he was dragged into the air during a practice session is suing a church for damages.

Steven Tomsett, 18, was pulled upwards when a wooden stay - designed to keep bells upright - broke.

The trainee engineer, who also injured his leg and lower back, blames St Helen's Church, in Abingdon, for not maintaining the bells properly.

It has been contacted for comment on the personal injury claim.

'Indescribable pain'

Mr Tomsett, who was 17 at the time of the fall in January, said: "I was pulled quickly up into the air and just remember looking down and seeing everybody's faces looking up at me.

"It was terrifying and was one of those moments when you think you are going to die. I thought: 'Is this really happening to me?'

"At about 20ft up I let go and came crashing down and then heard somebody shouting for me to let go.

"The pain I felt was just indescribable. I was in absolute agony. It's fair to say I was using language that shouldn't probably be used in church."

Image source, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption, The teenager had to be lowered down from the bell tower on a stretcher

The teenager was rescued from the church tower by firefighters who winched him to the floor, as a stretcher could not be taken up the church's spiral staircase.

He is taking a personal injury claim against the church and says the incident has left him in "constant pain".

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Mr Tomsett added: "This whole thing was avoidable if the bells had been maintained properly.

"I lost my job, I'm in constant pain and now the church has said what happened is not their fault. It doesn't seem right."

Image source, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption, Firefighters used a rope system because the church's spiral staircase was too steep

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