Tommy Hollins Inquest Hears Workers ' Under Pressure'

Contractors were told to be prompt as the election approached


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The Tommy Hollis inquest heard today (Tuesday, May 15th) that workers on the construction site outside Chiswick Town Hall were “ under pressure” to get the job done quickly.

Yesterday, the inquest was told that a worker had inadvertently sawn through a steel plate supporting a lamp post which toppled over five days later in February 2010, and killed baby Tommy as he slept in his pushchair. He died in hospital 48 hours later on the eve of his first birthday.

Amin Sinani, a senior consultant with Aecom which was employed to design the road re-widening scheme near Chiswick Town Hall by the London Borough of Hounslow, said he had an email from the council stressing the importance of the work being done promptly.

West London Coroner's Court was told that the council's head of transport expressed "the growing concern, with this being a civic site and the election approaching".

The email continued that the council was "very relieved" that Virgin Media was on site, as its underground cables needed to be moved as part of the scheme.

Asked by Owain Thomas, counsel for Tommy's parents Chris and Kate Hollis, if he was "under pressure to complete this project quickly", Mr Sinani replied: "The site had been excavated for a long time. In that sense, yes, there was some sort of pressure to deliver the work on time."

Asked if the local authority was expecting him to "exert pressure on Virgin Media to get on with it", Mr Sinani replied: "Yes".

Yesterday, engineer Kelvin Elmore told of how he cut through the steel plate holding the lamp post up, wrongly believing it to be part of an old tram line.

The inquest heard that a full excavation of the site was being carried out in a bid to avoid any further delays.

The trench ran on either side of the lamp post.

Mr Elmore, who was working for construction firm McNicholas, contracted by Virgin Media to move their cables, was trying to get the steel plate out of the way, believing it to be an obstruction to the works. He was not able to remove it, however.

He is still employed by the firm, although an internal investigation found him guilty of gross misconduct.

When asked if there was any consideration given to nearby structures, including the lamp post, when the decision was made to dig the trench, Mr Sinani replied: "No".

The lamp post had been due to be removed as part of the works and moved to the other side of the road, the inquest jury heard.

Tommy’s nanny Emma Martin told how she gave Tommy CPR after the lamp post fell.

They had been waiting to cross the road at the crossing at the time, en route from his parent’s home to a local coffee shop on the morning of February 23rd, 2010. Tommy was airlifted to hospital but his head injuries were too severe and he did not recover.

Chris and Kate Hollis set up the Tommy Hollis Children's Fund after their baby's death. The couple had a second son, Jack, last September.

The inquest is continuing.

May 15, 2012

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