Accidental Death 'Only Verdict' in Tommy Hollis Case

Parents express their disappointment with the inquest


Workers Under Pressure Hears Tommy Hollis Inquest

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The Tommy Hollis inquest seems set to return a verdict of accidental death after the Coroner told the jury that this was the only possible outcome.

Chris and Kate Hollis have said they feel let down with the way in which the three-day inquest was conducted and said it has "compounded their grief".

Baby Tommy died one day before his first birthday in February 2010 after a lamp-post toppled onto his buggy where road-widening works were being carried out in front of Chiswick Town Hall.

Coroner Elizabeth Pygott told the seven men and one woman of the jury that based on the evidence presented there was only one conclusion that they could rearch.

Ms Pygott said: "The issue of statutory liability for health and safety matters is not for this court and I do not consider that there is any evidence of a gross error that could give rise to any other conclusion, be it neglect, negligence or indeed unlawful killing."

She added that the fact of an accidental conclusion is not a bar to any prosecution or civil proceedings. The Health and Safety Executive is continuing with its investigation of the case.

West London Coroner's Court had heard how 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.

A workman, 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 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.

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.

After the inquest, Kate Hollis said that they had been aware before the inquest that it would be an extremely challenging time for them. However, she added;

“We did not expect our upset and anguish to be compounded by what we feel was the coroner’s decision to exclude from consideration, questions and evidence that might lead to us to better understand how our son Tommy was killed in February 2010.”

Mrs. Hollis said “We feel let down that crucial witnesses were not called or declined to answer questions.

“In particular, Kelvin Elmore, who cut the plate, chose not to give evidence and explain to the court, in person, why he did what he did.

“Despite what has been reported, Mr Elmore is not an engineer.

“Also, Hounslow Borough Council, under whose control these works were carried out, have been notably absent from these proceedings.

“We would also like know why there was no engineer on site at or around the time of the cut to the lamp post when it was apparent that the job was becoming more complicated and how no one realised that the plate was connected to the lamp post despite it being so close.”

Solicitor Sally Moore said the family were “ greatly disappointed” with the way the inquest was conducted.

“ The scope has been narrowed to the ‘nth’ degree’ and that was not at their request”.

May 18, 2012

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