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Cambridgeshire man killed by drum explosion


Pheasant feeder oil drum explosion killed Warboys man

A man died when the oil drum he was converting into a pheasant feeder exploded, an inquest heard.

Christopher Chatfield, 58, planned to cut six drums with a plasma cutter in his workshop near his home in Warboys, Cambridgeshire, on 21 April 2017.

When taking the lid off the third of those drums it exploded, causing a "massive penetrating head injury that would have been instantly fatal".

A jury at Huntingdon Town Hall concluded his death was an accident.

Flash of flame

The inquest was told Mr Chatfield had manufactured a set of metal drums to act as pheasant feeders for the local shoot, which kept more than 1,000 birds, in 2016.

David Clifford, the shoot gamekeeper, told the court more feeders were needed in 2017, so he sourced six oil drums from a local MOT garage that his brother-in-law Dean Hurrell worked at.

Mr Clifford picked them up from the garage and took them to Mr Chatfield's house on 20 April.

He told the court: "I said 'do them when you like' and he said 'I'll do them as soon as I can - get them out of the way'."

At about 08:12 GMT the following day CCTV showed that when Mr Chatfield used the plasma cutter on the first of the drums there was a flash of flame, and he later went to inspect his face.

He completed that and another drum before beginning on a third, which exploded as soon as he triggered the plasma cutter, the court heard.

He was pronounced dead at 08:25.

Parmjit Gahir, from the Health and Safety Executive, told the court that on inspection one of the three unopened drums had a smell consistent with petroleum or fuel, and when they went to the garage two drums were taken which upon scientific examination contained gasoline or petroleum.

However, he said it was not possible to determine what had been in the drum that killed Mr Chatfield because of the damage to it.

Returning a narrative verdict, the jury said: "Mr Chatfield died when an oil drum, supplied by a local garage, which he was cutting with a plasma cutter, exploded causing the lid to strike him on the head."


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