10:27am Thursday 20th March 2014
A YOUNG mother was killed when she was hit by a "catastrophic" electric shock after negligence by two Rowley Regis men turned her Black Country flat into a death trap.
Emma Shaw, a 22-year -old former Asda worker, was advised to turn off the stop cock which was inside a cupboard when she found flooding in the West Bromwich flat.
She left her 23-month-old son the living room to try and rectify the problem and she knelt down in a pool of water that had become electrically charged after a screw had penetrated an electric cable during construction work.
That caused a metal frame inside the wall to become charged with 240 volts and when she touched the stopcock she became earthed and the current "went through her body and ultimately killed her."
It was the failure of electrician Christopher Tomkins and qualified supervisor Neil Hoult to do their duties properly that resulted in the tragic death, alleged Richard Matthews QC prosecuting.
Tomkins, aged 52, of Rowley Village, and Hoult , aged 53, of Dane Terrace, deny breaching Health and Safety at Work regulations by failing to discharge their duty correctly.
But Mr Matthews alleged: "Through their negligence an extremely dangerous situation was allowed to persist for a period of at least 21 months until the events of 2007 unfolded.”
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told Miss Shaw texted her mother about the flooding who had told her to turn off the stopcock She then texted her partner, Andrew Cross, to say there was water on the floor and the electricity was "sparking".
When he arrived at their Jefferson House flat in Grafton Road he found her slumped forward by the cupboard. He called an ambulance but she was pronounced dead at Sandwell District Hospital.
Mr Matthews said the two men were employed by Anchor Electrical and Building Services and they had been engaged to carry out all the electrical work at the flats.
Tomkins claimed to have tested and inspected electrical installations in the flat and he had signed documentation to indicate it was problem free and safe.
Hoult then approved the findings of Tomkins that the supply was safe and it posed no danger, said Mr Matthews who added: "It was far from safe."
He said an investigation revealed the screw had gone into the cable during the construction phase causing the metal frame in the wall, which had been covered with plaster board and then plastered, to become charged with electricity.
Mr Matthews alleged that if Tomkins had tested the power supply properly and if Hoult had fully checked out the situation then the fault would have been detected immediately.
He said Tomkins had not conducted the tests at all. He entered bogus readings in documentation so the circuit would be deemed sound and he signed forms to say he confirmed he had used reasonable skill and care.
"He simply cannot have carried out the inspection testing," said Mr Matthews. "He did not show reasonable care in carrying out his work - work that affected the safety of other people."
There were a number of errors and inconsistencies that should have "jumped out of the documentation" at Hoult and they should have "alerted him to the unreliability of the recorded results".
The trial continues.
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