A MUCH-LOVED firefighter from Odiham died because of a lack of accessible mounting-dismounting apparatus at a private company where he was working, an inquest has heard.

Michael Terance Paull, 65 and of West Street, died because of blunt head trauma on January 20, 2018, at Southampton General Hospital, 10 days after he suffered a ‘horrible’ fall at his work in Odiham.

He was working as a lorry driver for Lubrication Management Services (LMS) Ltd.

Mr Paull was also a firefighter for Odiham Fire Station.

A jury concluded that the death of Mr Paull was accidental, influenced by the lack of accessible mounting-dismounting apparatus.

READ MORE: HGV health and safety failings led to employee’s death

Last year, the owner of LMS Ltd received an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, following Mr Paull’s death.

Colin Malam, of Farnham Road, Odiham, and his company pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court to health and safety at work offences.

In addition, LMS was fined £48,000 and costs of £110,000 were awarded to Hart District Council.

The inquest was held at Winchester Coroner’s Court over four days – from Tuesday, August 2 to Friday, August 5.

During the inquest, assistant coroner Sarah Whitby heard how Mr Paull fell from the flatbed of a lorry while unloading items from a specially adapted heavy goods vehicle.

A CCTV visual was also watched by the coroner and the jury showing the circumstances that led to the fall.

The jury said: “The fall occurred at 2.29pm while unloading a specially adapted HGV.

“Mr Paull mounted the flatbed of the lorry using the guardrail. It was not made specifically for the purpose nor was it easily accessible.

“There are no permanent fixed cables available for accessing the flatbed of the vehicle. So, Mr Paull used the structure of the IBC [intermediate bulk container] to support himself on the flatbed.

“This did not support his weight. The dismounting caused him to fall, resulting in an extensive head injury.”

Mr Paull was working alone at the time of his fall. He was not discovered until approximately two hours later.

Lyndsay Mercer, an employee at LMS, was the first to see Mr Paull when she went around the lorry to look for him.

The jury also heard from paramedic Richard Maxon, who arrived at the site at around 4.25pm.

Mr Maxon told the coroner that he tried to contact the air ambulance service to take Mr Paull to the Southampton hospital since he had suffered a head injury and was showing signs of blunt head trauma.

However, Mr Maxon said the service was extremely busy during this time and could not send him support.

After three more phone calls, he had to take a decision to transport Mr Paull to Southampton on an ambulance.

However, he had to wait for additional paramedic support to arrive as Mr Paull was “aggressive” because of the head injury.

Finally, Mr Paull reached the hospital nearly four hours after his fall.

However, Girish Vajramani, a consultant functional neurosurgeon at Southampton hospital, told the coroner that the delay in reaching hospital cannot be considered a significant reason for Mr Paull’s death.

Dympna Sanders, environmental health manager of Hart District Council, gave evidence based on her inspections at LMS Ltd.

SEE ALSO: Investigations continue after two treated for injuries following collision at supermarket

The inquest also heard statements from Michael Hall, consultant histopathologist, Dr Raffi Assadourian, GP, and Mr Malam, the owner of LMS.

Mr Paull’s family, including daughter Linda L’enfant, son Robert Paull and son-in-law Mr L’enfant were present throughout the inquest.

Solicitor Claire Anderson appeared for the South Central Ambulance Service, while Quentin Hunt was the counsel for Hart District Council.

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