'Contradictory evidence' at inquest into power station worker's death

A company health and safety manager says she has heard contradictory evidence at the inquest into a man who died some days after breaking his leg at Ironbridge Power Station.

The Ironbirdge Power Station site before the towers came down
The Ironbirdge Power Station site before the towers came down

An inquest jury is tasked with unravelling the circumstances that led to the death of asbestos worker Paul Alexander Wilson whose leg was broken in an accident in work leading up to the demolition of the power station administration block.

Mr Wilson, aged 51, from Rugeley, Staffordshire, was taken by ambulance to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital on Valentine's Day, 2021. While at RSH he had an operation on his right tibia, and tested positive for Covid. He died on March 4, 2021 after being taken to intensive care.

The cause of death was found to be pulmonary thrombo embolism and Covid.

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An inquest was called because of the accident at work. Mr Wilson had been working for Demolition Services Limited which won the contract to demolish the site which will be built on.

Charlene Walsh, the company's health and safety manager, said Mr Wilson had sent her an email from hospital saying that he had been working on a mobile tower scaffold. He said his foot had slipped while coming down through a trap door.

Ms Walsh had carried out a "full investigation report" after the incident, in which she interviewed Mr Wilson's fellow workers, including Robert Lynn, who had been with Mr Wilson at the time. They had been taking plastic sheets away after asbestos had been removed.

Ms Walsh said that during her interview Mr Lynn had given a "consistent witness statement" which had not mentioned the presence of a scaffold tower.

But during the course of the inquest she said she had heard a "completely different version of events".

She said: "The tower had not been mentioned by anybody else. There was no reason to suggest that he had been on that tower."

During his appearance as a witness at Shirehall, in Shrewsbury, on Monday. Mr Lynn had been cautioned by senior Shropshire coroner John Ellery. He had said Mr Wilson had not wanted him to mention the tower, but he said he was glad the truth was out.

The inquest jury has also been told that Mr Wilson may have twisted his body or fallen down a manhole.

Ms Walsh, who has 15 years of experience in the industry, said there was no reason for Mr Wilson to have been on a scaffold tower as removing plastic sheeting on its own could have been done from ground level. The removal of timber would have required them to be working at height, but she saw no evidence that timber had been removed.

Ms Walsh was quizzed at the witness stand for more than 90 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, mainly by Charlie Hill, who was representing the family.

"I tried to reach out to him," said Ms Walsh. "I did not think he was seriously injured. I thought he had twisted his ankle. I thought it was a very simple injury."

She said she only had one email from Mr Wilson. "I sent others but they were all ignored," she said.

Ms Walsh said she had not tried to contact Mr Wilson's wife or his family and had been trying to see when he might be back at work.

The inquest also heard from Mr Wilson's brother, Karl George Wilson, from Rugeley, who works as a regional manager in the same industry but not for DSL.

Mr Wilson told the jury that his brother had told him that Robert Lynn had shouted to him, and he left it [the tower] through a trapdoor. The tower had wobbled and he had lost his footing.

"I am positive, that is what he told me," he said.

The inquest had concluded hearing from witnesses. On Wednesday, coroner Mr Ellery is due to sum up and send the jury out to consider its conclusions.

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