Sunderland window cleaner’s death blamed on ‘unsafe’ ladders

Hindmarch Drive, Boldon.
Hindmarch Drive, Boldon.
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AN ELDERLY window cleaner fell to his death while using “unsafe” ladders.

Robert Veater, 71, was working at a house in Hindmarch Drive, West Boldon, on Thursday, November 8, when he slipped and fell.

An inquest was told he suffered extensive brain and other bodily injuries in the 12ft fall.

But after hearing evidence about the poor state of the ladders Mr Veater was using at the time, South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney said: “This was sadly an accident waiting to happen.”

The hearing was told the metal ladders were hand-made in places and were not fitted with rubber feet.

Mr Veater fell off the ladder while cleaning windows at the home of couple Glen Cattanach and Joanne Rowland, who came to Mr Veater’s aid after hearing a loud crash.

The couple were commended by the Coroner for their actions, including putting the injured man in the recovery position and trying to clear his airway.

Pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper said death was the result of a blunt head injury, after Mr Veater slipped from the ladders and fell on to a tiled, sloping driveway.

Mr Veater, of Durham Road, Sunderland, was initially taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, but after he suffered respiratory arrest, the ambulance was diverted to South Tyneside District Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Detective Inspector Caroline Ord, who investigated the fall, said: “Mr Veater worked alone and usually anchored his ladders to a vehicle, but the ladders did not stay that way.

“The two-piece ladder was not the safest and not in the best of repair.”

Det Insp Ord added: “In my opinion, the ladders slipped.”

Mr Carney said: “Mr Veater died as the result of a blunt head injury and that blunt head injury occurred inadvertently in a fall.”

Verdict: accidental death

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho