Worker's remorse over death of baby


A workman who cut the base of a lamp post that later fell, fatally injuring a baby, wishes he had died instead, an inquest heard today.

Tommy Hollis suffered severe head injuries when he was struck by the falling lamp post as he was sleeping in a pram being pushed by his nanny in Chiswick, west London, on the morning of February 23, 2010.

He was rushed to hospital but scans revealed his brain injuries were so serious he could not survive. His parents agreed Tommy should not be resuscitated if he suffered a cardiac arrest.

He was a day short of his first birthday when he died two days later, on February 25, 2010 at London's King's College Hospital.

Kelvin Elmore, a civil engineer with construction firm Mc Nicholas, was clearing obstructions under the ground ready for laying new cables for Virgin Media when he cut the steel plate, five days before the incident.

In a statement read to West London Coroner's Court, Mr Elmore said he thought the steel - 18 inches from the lamp post - was part of an old tram line and did not realise it was connected to the lamp post in any way.

Mr Elmore, who was not on site when the lamp post fell, said he was "utterly devastated" to have been involved in the incident.

His statement read: "As a father myself, I cannot express how horrified I am to have had any connection with the death of a child.

"I cannot imagine what the family are going through. As I said when I gave my statement to the police, if I could take the place of that child, then I would."

An investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive and the police, the inquest was told.

Mr Elmore said in his statement that he admitted immediately it had been him who cut the steel, but added: "I simply thought it was part of an obsolete part of steel track and had no idea it was connected to the lamp-post."

The lamp post was due to be removed by the council later as part of a road re-widening scheme in Chiswick.

Mr Elmore was found guilty of gross misconduct by his company and given a written warning.

He is still employed by them, the inquest jury was told.

Tommy's nanny said in a statement that the pair were walking to a Starbucks coffee shop from Chris and Kate Hollis's nearby home when the accident happened.

Anna Martin said they had been waiting to cross at traffic lights close to the roadworks, near Chiswick Town Hall when she heard a "hollow" noise.

"There was a terrible scream and I immediately pulled the pushchair back," she said in the statement.

It was then she realised the buggy had no wheels and had been hit by something. What looked like a piece of pipe was lying across the roadworks barriers, she said.

Ms Martin added: "Tommy looked like he was sleeping. It had all happened so fast."

She tried to revive the little boy with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

"I didn't know what was wrong, but his eyes were closed and he looked like he was sleeping, which worried me." she continued. "I shouted for help."

Tommy was carried onto the steps of the town hall where efforts were made to revive him before an ambulance arrived.

The nanny, who said a policeman told her Tommy was breathing, telephoned his parents to inform them there had been "a terrible accident".

Mary Gregory, who was pushing her granddaughter Poppy in a buggy next to Ms Martin, was also struck by the lamp post. She was knocked to the ground and treated in hospital overnight. The inquest heard she was the woman that Tommy's nanny could hear screaming.

Mrs Hollis had left the coroner's court when the evidence of a paramedic who attended to her son was read out.

Her husband was also present at the inquest, due to last for three days, to hear the details of their son's death.

Mr Elmore said he had never seen a lamppost secured in such a way in his 17-year career.

He added: "I was surprised and shocked how the lamppost had been manipulated to anchor it in the ground."

A lamppost usually runs straight into the ground, or is secured on a concrete plinth, the inquest heard.

The bottom of the lamppost concerned had instead been cut off, and a steel plate and concrete structure connected to it in a "dog-leg" arrangement.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Dominic Long said the "hybrid column" used to support the lamppost was "rare".

He told the inquest the steel plate had been compared to a section of tram line during the investigation, and it was found that they did not appear similar.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey


Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner