Colin Leonard Vaughan, from Telford, who was 71, spent much of his professional life working in foundries and took to gardening projects after retiring to occupy his time and earn some money – normally working for £10 an hour.
It was while trimming bushes by a pond for one of his regular customers on August 18 he suffered an accident and was fatally electrocuted by the machine he was using.
Nobody witnessed the accident itself, but the homeowner soon spotted Mr Vaughan face down with his lower body in the garden pond.
Paramedics were called but he was declared dead at the scene.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the death, and an electrical expert gave evidence to an inquest that was held this week.
Shropshire’s coroner Mr John Ellery heard a statement from Mr Vaughan’s wife of 46 years, Josie, who described him as a reliable, hardworking man whose strong work ethic inspired their two daughters, Kelly and Jodie, both of whom would go on to find success in their own fields.
His real passion, she said, was tinkering with engines, though he also enjoyed fishing.
He went into employment straight out of school and worked in various foundries around Telford and Wrekin.
After retiring at the age of 65, he became “extremely bored” of life without work and went into gardening and landscaping, working for friends and acquaintances and relying on word of mouth.
One of his customers, Bryan Pickering, lived in Trench.
The two men liked to discuss fishing, and Mr Vaughan arranged to trim some bushes by the family’s garden pond. He turned up on August 18 and went straight into the garden to work as normal, the homeowner said in a statement. Mr Pickering heard the sound of Mr Vaughan’s trimming machine shortly after, but some time later he saw he had fallen and was partly in the water.
He went to Mr Vaughan and tried to revive him, but he was confirmed dead by ambulance staff who arrived shortly after.
Andrew Seager, a HSE expert on electrical equipment, inspected Mr Vaughan’s trimmer and the electrical fittings at the house which it was plugged into.
He told the inquest the trimmer itself was old and the cable had been repaired in places.
He said the repairs were not waterproof, although there were no places where the live wire could be touched directly.
Mr Seager said that although nobody saw exactly what happened, his most likely theory was Mr Vaughan had been partly in and out of the pond when it was electrified somehow by the trimmer.
He explained that if Mr Vaughan was touching both the water and the land, the electric current could have travelled through him and caused fatal injuries.
Mr Seager also pointed out that if the external fittings at the house had included a residual current device (RCD), the accident might have been avoided.
An RCD is a sensitive safety device that switches off electricity automatically if there is a fault, and Mr Seager said they are included as standard in many modern buildings.
A jury considered the evidence before concluding that Mr Vaughan’s death was accidental, and that the likely cause of the accident was electrocution via the garden pond.
At the conclusion of the inquest, Mr Ellery thanked the HSE experts, the jury and Mr Vaughan’s widow and daughters. He offered the family condolences and said: “It’s a lesson to us all to check what we’ve got at home.”