Inquest hears man died after being struck by metal in neck

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A retired farmer died after being struck by a piece of metal, an inquest has been told.

A jury concluded James Headland, 74, was hit by a ‘metal projectile’ in his neck while a bush was being trimmed at his property.

Following a two-day inquest which concluded on Wednesday, and was overseen by South Lincolnshire coroner Robert Forrest, a jury of 11 people unanimously returned a conclusion of ‘accidental death’.

The inquest was told how on Friday, February 13, 2015, Mr Headland was to have hedges cut by an Adrian Picket on a family property and former farm in Great Fen Road, Wyberton.

The jury heard that Mr Pickett had previously run a hedge-cutting business, but at that time was only cutting for himself, close friends, and old customers.

The inquest was told how Mr Pickett cut the hedges using a tractor and ‘flail’ - a piece of agricultural machinery used for cutting grass and hedges.

Having completed one job for Mr Headland, he was asked to take a look at some nearby elder bushes.

In a statement read out to the coroner’s court, Mr Pickett said there was a ‘clattering sound’ which he recognised as suggesting a ‘foreign object’ had been caught in the flail.

At about 11.40am he stopped the vehicle and got out to check the equipment, expecting Mr Headland to be approaching to see what was wrong. However, when Mr Headland did not appear, Mr Pickett noticed Mr Headland’s feet sticking out from between a trailer and a pile of pallets some distance away.

Emergency services were called but despite attempts to resuscitate Mr Headland,
 he died.

Mr Picket told the inquest that prior to this, the last time he had seen Mr Headland he had been quite some distance away.

Pathologist Dr Michael Biggs described how he had found a piece of what he thought was very likely to be barbed wire during the post mortem. This, he believed had caused injury to the left side of Mr Headland’s neck and in turn injured an artery and the left lung, which collapsed.

An inspection of the machinery by the Health and Safety Executive found problems with the guarding of the flail leading to the possibility of objects being projected from it - however, it was not possible to say for certain that had they been in place they would have prevented Mr Headland’s death, the inquest was told.