Family blast verdict into engineer's death
PUBLISHED: 17:02 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:00 07 September 2010
Tan Parsons THE family of an engineer who fell to his death from a roof in Hampstead have blasted the verdict given at his inquest. Noel Corbin, 29, was adjusting a Sky satellite dish on the roof of a four-storey Victorian house in Belsize Park Gardens on
THE family of an engineer who fell to his death from a roof in Hampstead have blasted the verdict given at his inquest.
Noel Corbin, 29, was adjusting a Sky satellite dish on the roof of a four-storey Victorian house in Belsize Park Gardens on February 3, 2008, when he fell and fatally struck his head on the courtyard below.
He was working for contractors Foxtel Limited on behalf of AVC - one of Sky's business partners.
Today (Wednesday March 11), which would have been Mr Corbin's 31st birthday, a jury at St Pancras Coroner's Court decided he had died as the result of an accident.
The engineer's mother Alma Corbin said she could not accept this because the conditions leading up to his death were not safe.
"He was sent to do a job that was dangerous," she said. "It is the responsibility of Sky, AVC and Foxtel to make sure the people working for them can do their job safely."
She said her son had not received appropriate training or health and safety refresher courses and that there should have been two people working on the job.
During the inquest this week, it emerged that engineers previously sent to the property had labelled the job as "health and safety impossible", but that information was not passed to Foxtel Limited.
Summing up, coroner Dr Andrew Reid told how aerial engineer Mr Corbin, from New Addington in Croydon, was sent to fix a dish belonging to a couple on the upper floor of the building. When he arrived, he was told a second Sky dish and a German satellite dish also needed tending to.
The court heard how Mr Corbin was given access to the roof through a dormer window in the upper flat. After adjusting the dishe,s he came back inside several times to check both Sky customers' television signals. After adjusting the German dish he climbed back in to check the signal but found he had not been successful.
Dr Reid said: "The next sighting of him was by the customer on the lower floor who was standing by the kitchen windows. He saw an object fall which he realised was Mr Corbin, who appears to have slipped, tripped or fallen."
Mr Corbin suffered a severe head injury when he struck the courtyard and did not regain consciousness.
Dr Reid added: "We have heard from the company for whom he worked that they did not regard him as being someone for specialised heights work. The Health and Safety Executive's view is that he took a risk as soon as he went onto the roof."
Giving evidence earlier at the inquest, Foxtel's health and safety supervisor David Smith said Mr Corbin had received a safety briefing as part of a one-hour induction.
He said: "No one forces them to do a job. If he didn't feel safe he should have called someone.
"He shouldn't have been doing that job. It needed a specialised two man team."
The jury heard Mr Corbin had taken health and safety training in 2002 but had had no further training.
After the inquest Mrs Corbin paid tribute to her son: "He was more than a son to me - he was also my friend. I can't put into words what he means to me. There will never be another person like him.
"I feel like I don't have a heart left because it's been destroyed. It took the family's breath away at Noel's funeral - there were more than 1,200 people there. People came from all over the world."
His younger brother Drew said: "He was a fun and loveable brother. He was my big brother and my best friend. He always had a good time and was an enjoyable person to be around."
His sister Tamika Niles added: "He was very caring and family meant everything to him. He was mischievous and always grinning."
At the time of his death he had been planning to move to Southend with his partner Cherokee Curtis to start a family.
Mr Corbin's death remains the subject of an ongoing health and safety investigation.
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