Electrician killed by electric shock while fixing bathroom lights

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AN electrician died while working at a customer’s Wearside home, an inquest heard.

Self-employed Robert Mackenzie, 33, was called out to an address in Thorneyburn Close, in Houghton, last July.

An inquest into his death yesterday heard that bathroom lights at the house would not turn off, leading the resident to call for Mr Mackenzie’s services.

But half an hour after the electrician arrived and began work in the loft area of the property, the homeowner called up to him and, after getting no response, went up to find him slumped on the floor.

The inquest at Sunderland Coroner’s Court heard the client then called an ambulance but, despite the efforts of paramedics, Mr Mackenzie, of Highworth Drive, Springwell Village, was pronounced dead a short time later.

Investigations at the property following his death uncovered two faults within the wiring of the bathroom lights, after wires had been “pressurised together”.

Electrical specialist Andrew Seager told the hearing: “The person that had done the installation had twisted the two wires together.

“When the circuit was energised, you got quite a current running through the wire.”

Mr Seager added that Mr Mackenzie would have been able to avoid being electrocuted if he had isolated the electrical circuit running through the wire, however, he did 

“If you do not isolate the circuit prior to investigating that fault, there is no idea what the fault can be,” said Mr Seager.

Mr Seager also said that it was likely that more than 240 volts of electricity had gone through Mr Mackenzie’s body, causing his death. Post-mortem examinations found that Mr Mackenzie had suffered blistering to his left index finger, and on the tip of his right index finger, caused most probably as a result of touching the live metal parts of the lighting system when he was electrocuted.

Sunderland Coroner Derek Winter instructed the jury of seven women and four men to record a conclusion of accidental death concerning the incident, which happened on July 27.

“The essential issues relate to the bathroom lighting,” said Mr Winter.

“Two faults were identified and Rob went to try to remedy these lights.

“If a person came in to continue working with these exposed metal parts, there was potential for an electric shock.”

Mr Winter added: “I am going to direct you that the only conclusion that you can record in these very tragic circumstances is one of an accident.”