Ivy growth at death site could have caused "flickering" in homes, court hears

John FlowersJohn Flowers
John Flowers
Homeowners living near a tragic scene where an electricity worker fell to his death are likely to have had flickering problems caused by serious ivy growth, a court has heard.

An expert witness has also highlighted how ivy at the site where Preston grandad John Flowers (inset) died may even have been ‘live’.

Martin Lennon, an expert in utility aboriculture - the practice of clearing vegetation to make services safe - said there were regulations in place that firms have to maintain safe distances between vegetation and electricals.

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He was giving evidence at the trial of Electricity North West, which is being prosecuted over alleged safety failings in the wake of the death of Mr Flowers, who was a linesman.

Prosecuting, Nigel Lawrence QC asked: “Why do regulations specify firms have to carry out vegetation removal?”

He replied: “Electricity can cause harm so there is a need to make sure the vegetation stays away from the conductors. It can conduct through the vegetation.

“It can jump a short distance through the air with out any conductor at all through the atmosphere.

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“Potentially the ivy is live so if you touch that you risk the electricity passing through you.

“Looking at the images I’ve seen it wouldn’t be surprising to me if you spoke to householders nearby if their lights flickered, televisions flickered, that might indicate the electricity was arcing through the vegetation to the ground.”

He went on to tell jurors about the points that should have been covered in a risk assessment at the site, including tools. The court previously heard no risk assessment had been shown to Mr Flowers or his colleague.