Death-fall father of two ‘not suicide’
A RESPECTED colleague and loving husband who plunged four storeys to his death could have been trying to close an opened window, an inquest heard last week.
Human resources manager Iain Campbell had been working in a private meeting room in his office at the Westbrooke Centre, Cambridge when colleagues said they heard a loud bang.
Staff rushed outside to find the 49-year-old father of two lying face-down on the ground below a wide-open window. He was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple traumatic injuries.
At the inquest in Huntingdon Law Courts on Thursday, Cambridge City Council food and occupational safety team leader Frank Harrison said the window from which Mr Campbell fell was faulty, as were others in the building.
Two out of three restrictors designed to stop it from opening to its maximum capacity were broken and on the day of Mr Campbell’s death, June 8 last year, there was a 1.3 metre gap between the windowsill and the window-frame.
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But Mr Harrison stopped short of saying the windows in the 50 year old building contravened health and safety work regulations.
He said: “In my opinion, it is not safe to lean out from 1.3 metre and try to pull the window in without any kind of restraint.
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“This type of defect is common with this type of window. The restrictors are over-rideable to be able to open windows fully for cleaning purposes, but it is not uncommon to have the restrictors damaged by the force of people not knowing how the window works.
“People who open the window do not appreciate it is designed to stop and often force the window. Newer windows are made to be more robust.
“It is recommended that supplementary stays or restrictors are put on these windows to prevent accidental or increased risk in premises for vulnerable groups, but is not a legal requirement.”
It was revealed, however, the window remains unfixed, though discussions are ongoing with the management company in charge of the centre.
Speaking at the inquest, Mr Campbell’s boss senior executive for research and analysis company RAND Europe, Jonathan Grant described the moment he heard about the incident.
He said: “I received a panicky phonecall from the receptionist saying Iain had fallen out of a window. I was on-site in 10 minutes.
“There were nine people on site at the time. People were crying and hugging each other, and there were several paramedics trying to revive him. I could see Iain was critically unwell.”
Earlier that day Mr Grant had spoken to Mr Campbell, who lived at Quarry Lane, Swaffham Bulbeck following a couple of minor ‘run-ins’ with junior members of staff.
The pair had talked about reducing Mr Campbell’s workload and delaying some deadlines, but Mr Grant insisted he had no major concerns about Mr Campbell’s performance.
His wife Sheila said her husband had no reason to take his own life, and described him as her “soul-mate.”
She told police: “I cannot contemplate life without him.”
Ruling out suicide South & West Cambridgeshire coroner, Sam Bass recorded an open verdict coroner and appealed for the windows to be fixed.
He said: “I cannot make a formal suggestion but it would be nice to know for Mrs Campbell that it cannot happen to anybody else’s husband, wife or partner.”