A labourer from Brighton died after a fall at a block of seafront flats in Hove where he was working, an inquest was told today (Monday 16 January).
Ernie Aaron Taylor died on his 30th birthday as a result of falling into a lightwell at Essex House, St Aubyns Gardens, in Kingsway, Hove, three days earlier.
Ernie Taylor was one of a team of three asphalt workers dealing with a leak affecting a top floor flat, Brighton and Hove Coroner’s Court was told.
The coroner, Karen Henderson, said that the police and health and safety officials had investigated what had happened and had not brought criminal charges.
Dr Henderson asked Steve Ford, from the principal contractor Miles-Hersey, why there was no protection around the lightwell – or internal courtyard – where Mr Taylor fell.
Mr Ford said that the work was done from a scaffold and said: “There was no need to go on to the roof.”
The foreman on the job, Paul Damario, 65, from Damario Asphalt Roofing, said that he had told Mr Taylor not to go on to the roof.
Mr Taylor had obviously done so, he said, although he didn’t realise straight away. He said: “I sat down for lunch for a while on one end of the scaffold. I called down to my son Sean to say I was about to start work again.
“Then I heard a noise and I couldn’t work out what the noise was. I walked back along the scaffold and I looked and I could see where Mr Taylor had been.
“I managed to clamber up the wall on to the roof. Then I saw the sky-well opening. I looked down and everyone knows what happened then.”
Dr Henderson asked whether Mr Damario asked Mr Taylor to go on the roof to take pictures of their work.
He said: “Absolutely not. I didn’t know that he would be taking photos. I didn’t ask him to go on the roof. In any case, photos are usually taken on completion of the job.”
Dr Henderson said: “Would it be expected of him to take photos?”
Mr Damario said: “Yes.”
He said that he had worked with Mr Taylor for some time – every day for 14 weeks, according to Mr Taylor’s brother Aaron.
And Mr Damario said: “The reason I worked with him was because I chose to. He was a brilliant worker.
“That was a terrible day, an absolutely terrible day. I couldn’t understand how he got there. He should never have been there.
“I worked with Ernie a lot. I always asked to work with him because he was such a good worker.
“He was very energetic, very lively and always worked hard.”
Mr Taylor, of Lodsworth Close, off Swanborough Drive, Whitehawk, died in September 2020 a week before the birth of his daughter – his second child.
The inquest, which is taking place with a jury at the Leonardo hotel, formerly the Jury’s Inn, in Stroudley Road, by Brighton railway station, continues.