Horror Stories

West Reading man killed by faulty desk lamp


March 17, 2010

A West Reading man died after being electrocuted by a faulty desk lamp, an inquest heard.

John McCreesh’s burnt body was discovered lying on top of the still glowing light in his Oxford Road bedsit by neighbours on November 6. The 66-year-old had been killed days earlier by a massive electric shock from the lamp which had been wired incorrectly.

Experts confirmed the earth flex – which had not been screwed to its connection point – touched one of the other wires which caused the lamp to become ‘live’.

Last Tuesday’s inquest at Reading Civic Centre heard how fellow tenants had become suspicious after a “meaty burny smell” swamped the apartment block.

David Arthur, 47, who lived in the top floor flat, soon discovered the source of the strange odour was coming from Mr McCreesh’s digs.

In a statement he said: “I saw his room light on. I peered through the glass window and saw a body lying face down. No-one had seen him for a week but this was not unusual.”

Sergeant Paul Durden, who attended the scene, said there were no signs of false entry and the death was not treated as suspicious.

Expert electrician Roderick Stewart, who examined the lamp, confirmed it had been incorrectly wired.

“There was no earth terminal,” he said. “The earth wire touched the live wire which made the lamp live.

“There was a very significant chance of electrocution if the body of the lamp was touched.

“This could have been prevented if it had been wired correctly.”

A post-mortem examination carried out by Dr Robert Chapman, pathologist at Royal Berkshire Hospital, confirmed Mr McCreesh died from electrocution and suffered electrical burning to his neck, shoulder and chest.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Berkshire assistant deputy coroner Ravi Sidhu said: “The absence of the flex grip allowed the earth wire to touch one of the conductor wires which made the lamp live. We have no way of knowing who was responsible for wiring the lamp incorrectly.”


Warning after woman killed by faulty hedge trimmer

Saturday, 17 July 2010

The mother of a woman killed by a faulty hedge trimmer warned others of the dangers of electrical goods malfunctioning.

Laura Hobday, who had three children, was gardening when she received a fatal electric shock trying to clear the device after it got jammed with leaves.

It later emerged the pin section of the socket was put together incorrectly.

Miss Hobday, 35, was found lying barefoot in the garden of her home in Ringmer, Lewes, East Sussex, by friends who became concerned when she failed to collect one of her sons from nursery school.

Her youngest boy Joshua, who was then 22 months old, was found sleeping beside her. East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of accidental death after an inquest yesterday.

Speaking after the hearing concluded, her mother Jan Hobday said: "Laura was operating the trimmer and had no knowledge of its history. Leaves had got stuck in it, so she took part of it off to clear it, thinking that would make it safe.

"That's the kind of thing anyone would do. What she didn't realise was that the bit she touched was still connected to the mains plug. She didn't know that was where the danger lay."

Mrs Hobday, from Bedford, described her daughter, who was a business law graduate, as a "brilliant mother" who would not have taken any unnecessary risks.

"Laura was a very intelligent woman," the 55-year-old said. "But she still made that decision that she thought was safe.

"She would never have taken any risks. She was a brilliant mother who loved her children. She was very careful with their car seats and their diets.

"This goes to show that we are all very vulnerable to these kind of events. Laura did something any of us could have done."

Mrs Hobday urged others to take care when using such items and to have them fixed by experts if anything went wrong.

Her grandchildren Zach, six, Luc, four, and Josh, nearly three, are now cared for by their father Gary Neale, who was separated from Miss Hobday.

Mrs Hobday added: "She gave them a very good grounding. She was a lovely mother and did all the right things for them. She made them laugh all the time and brought great joy to their lives."

Neighbour Victoria Morris said Miss Hobday was a good friend of hers. She and friend Adrienne Purdon were the first to find Miss Hobday in the afternoon of June 2 last year. Emergency services were called but it was too late to save her.

Mr Craze said the death was caused by an error in a home repair on the wiring, The Argus newspaper reported. It emerged the two ends of the socket were attached in the wrong way and that the accident could have been averted by fitting a cheap, plug-in circuit breaker.