Crushed to death by forklift truck

The scene of the accident
The scene of the accident

A WIGAN man recently released from prison suffered fatal chest injuries having been pinned “face down” under a forklift truck, an inquest heard.

Christopher James Morris of Golborne Place, Scholes, was found by his wife Sonia who told Bolton Coroner’s Court she “just knew” immediately that her husband was dead.

A paramedic who attended the scene in 2011 said it appeared that Mr Morris had either “jumped or been thrown” from the driver’s cab.

The jury heard how Mrs Morris went to the Kirkless Industrial Estate on Cale Lane on the morning of Friday November 11 to find her husband after he had not been seen since the previous day.

Mr Morris, 40, had been working cleaning astro-turf in a “cash-in-hand” arrangement there for a matter of days, Mrs Morris told the court.

Although the front gate to the yard was locked, she got through a gap in the fence but could not see anyone.

She said: “I saw a light flashing from the forklift and then I saw him underneath it. I knew he was dead, I touched him and he was freezing.

“I ran out screaming ‘my husband is dead’ and jumped in front of a lorry saying ‘stop, stop’. The driver said to me ‘calm down’ as he couldn’t understand me. I said again ‘my husband is dead’.”

Earlier in the hearing - which is scheduled to take six days - Mrs Morris told coroner Kevin McLoughlin that her husband had “a bit of a blow out” after coming out of prison the previous month.

But she added that he had “got his head together”, was keen to start working and the pair were trying for a baby.

Although she was not aware if her husband had a licence to operate a forklift, Mrs Morris said she had seen him operate the equipment at the yard that week transporting astro-turf .

Friend Craig Bold said Mr Morris had experience of driving trucks and agreed he was “the sort of chap who could turn his hand to anything.”

The court also heard that Mr Morris was not permitted to reside with his wife due to the conditions of his release from prison because she lived too close to the victim of that offence.

He had told probation officers he was living with associate Stephen Craig, who had supported Mr Morris financially during his incarceration and had got him his role at the yard.

The jury was told of a suggestion that Mr Morris had been breaking this condition by staying with his wife or sleeping in a caravan at the yard.

Probation officer Adrian Jones said he had raised concerns that Mr Morris was not living at Mr Craig’s address after becoming suspicious after a visit.

When asked by Mr McLoughlin whether it now appears that the housing arrangements had been misrepresented to him at the time, Mr Jones answered: “Yes, it does.”

In a statement, paramedic Angela Wallace said Mr Morris’ body was already showing signs of rigor-mortis.

She added: “The patient was face down and was trapped by his neck by the top bar of the roll cage.”

A post-mortem examination found that he had no alcohol or illicit drugs in his system at the time of his death although he had been taking medication for depression.

Forensic pathologist Dr Charles Wilson said as a result of the multiple spinal and chest injuries “death would have ensued fairly rapidly.”