Death trap electrician was not a qualified tester, court told

Emma Shaw

Emma Shaw

First published in News

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, aged 22-year, was hit by 240 volts as she tried to stop her home flooding by turning off the stopcock in December 2007.

Electrician Christopher Tomkins and qualified supervisor Neil Hoult are on trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court for failing to carry out and certify proper tests which would have detected the fault that killed her.

The former Asda worker left her 23-month-old son the living room to deal with the flood at her West Bromwich home.

But she knelt down in a pool of water that had become electrically charged after a screw had penetrated an electric cable during construction work undertaking 21 months earlier.

That caused a metal frame inside the wall to become charged and when she touched the stopcock she became earthed and she was electrocuted.

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.

Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, said the two men were employed by Anchor Electrical and Building Services to carry out electrical work at the Grafton Road flats but had left the supply to the flat “far from safe”.

Giving evidence this week, Tomkins said he had been assured vital safety tests had been carried out and that he had been told to sign forms as an electrical test inspector - a qualification he did not hold.

He told the jury faults had been rectified in a number of the other flats on the site and he was told full tests had been carried out in Miss Shaw’s flat.

Tomkins said he had signed forms confirming the flat was safe as an electric test inspector but that was a position he had never wanted to hold.

"I did not want the responsibility," said Tomkins. "I was happy with the salary I was earning at the time. I did not want to go back to college again so late in life. I was told the examinations were very difficult."

He went on: "I wrote down I was a test inspector under instructions. I can remember being told to write it down. I am not a test inspector but my name was on the certificates. "

The trial continues.

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