Floodlight which killed footballer 'fixed with Sellotape’

A FAULY floodlight which electrocuted a five-a-side footballer in Portsmouth had been repaired with Sellotape, an inquest heard.

The floodlight killed taxi driver Albert Xhediku, who was playing football with friends, as he tried to retrieve a ball he kicked had over a fence.

Xhediku, 34,  who came from Albania, worked as a taxi driver in Portsmouth

Xhediku, 34, screamed in agony and suffered a seizure after coming into contact with the floodlight's mast while climbing back over the 12ft fence.

The inquest heard that Xhediku had offered to fetch the ball moments before as it was 'his turn'.

The hearing, the start of an eight-day jury inquest into his death, was told he and his friends were playing five-a-side after booking an artificial football pitch on the evening of January 17, 2016.

During the course of the game, Xhediku accidentally kicked the ball over the fence and went to retrieve it. As he climbed back, however, he suffered a fatal electric shock.

Xhediku's friends rushed to his aid at Mountbatten leisure centre in Portsmouth, Hampshire, after hearing his screams and desperately helped him from the fence.

However, he had stopped breathing and never regained consciousness.

The tragedy raised the issue of the maintenance of lighting equipment and sparked a three-year probe by the Health and Safety Executive [HSE] and Portsmouth Coroner's Court heard today there had been multiple reports of minor electric shocks by the floodlight.

HSE inspector Michelle Canning today told the hearing: "Albert and his friends were playing on an all weather pitch surrounded by a 12ft fence.

‘The ball went over the fence and Albert went to collect it.

‘When he was climbing back over the fence he made contact with a floodlight pylon adjacent with the fence.

“'He screamed and went into a seizure as he suffered an electric shock.

‘His friends helped him from the fence but he had stopped breathing.

‘He never regained consciousness. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.’

The junction box at the base of the floodlight used by footballers to climb out of the pitch to retrieve footballs. It's believed that a fault here caused the metal floodlight column to become live.

She added: ‘There was a control box at the bottom of the floodlight, which other players from Albert's friends said had previously suffered minor electric shocks from.

‘The control box had sustained some damage and had been fixed with Sellotape.

‘One of the masts for the floodlight was also partially damaged because of the weather - it had been blown around in the wind.’

Assistant coroner Lincoln Brookes said Xhediku, who came from Albania, had kicked the ball over the fence at Mountbatten Centre.

Mr Brookes, giving a brief overview to jurors ahead of the opening, said: ‘It was his turn to collect the ball, and he climbed over a locked fence.

‘As he was climbing back over the fence, he touched the mast on a floodlight which gave him a fatal electric shock.’

He added: ‘Normally floodlight posts don’t electrocute but in this case it did.’

At the time of his death, an investigation was launched by Parkwood Community Leisure, which operates, Mountbatten Centre.

Xhediku, from Portsmouth, was given CPR by paramedics but later pronounced dead at the nearby Queen Alexandra Hospital.

The hearing was told another man who climbed the fence to retrieve a football had also been electrocuted by the floodlight just months earlier, and reported the incident to staff on site.

A third man revealed after Xhediku's death that he too had been electrocuted just weeks before, but did not report it to the leisure centre at the time.

The coroner returned a verdict of accidental death.

 

 

  • Learn more about lighting and safety at the LuxLive 2019 exhibition.  The show takes place on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2018 at ExCeL London. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.

 

 

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