Chiswell Green gardener killed after stepping out into the road without looking

PUBLISHED: 12:11 14 November 2014

Tippendell Lane

Tippendell Lane


A gardener died while out on a job after accidentally stepping out into the path of another gardener’s van, a coroner ruled on Tuesday.

Brian Barrett, of Sunnydell, Chiswell Green, was working with his brother Richard Barrett on June 23, when he failed to check the road was clear after walking out from behind his brother’s Volkswagen Transporter.

Describing the incident at the inquest this week, Richard said he was at a job on one side of Tippendell Lane and Brian was on another job on the opposite side with a friend.

Brian had walked to the shops to get a coffee at around 9am and was about to cross the road to see if his brother wanted anything but failed to check the blind spot.

Richard said: “He didn’t bother to put his head out to look slightly. If he’d just gone three yards the other way and walked roun; that’s the most annoying thing. He just forgot, he just wasn’t in the moment.”

Richard was first aware something had happened when he heard a noise and saw Brian lying in the road some distance behind where their vehicle was parked.

“I just saw him on the floor and just grabbed him. The traffic had stopped and a nurse jumped out and told us not to move him.” The 54 year old later died of traumatic injuries.

The driver of the van with which Brian collided, retired part-time gardener Graham Mayles, said he was travelling at around 20 miles per hour and that he always invariably slowed down on that road as there were always other vehicles coming in the other direction.

Describing the moment after the accident happened he said: “I was really surprised how far I’d gone [down the road], I didn’t really get a chance to brake; there seems to be a blank there because it was shock.”

The inquest heard that Brian, an epileptic, was being investigated for the eye condition glaucoma but Richard explained that he never really said it was a big problem.”

Concluding that the death was accidental, deputy Herts coroner, Graham Danbury, said: “The facts are clear and not in any way in dispute. Having done the first job of the morning, Brian went off to get his coffee and enjoy it and have a smoke, but decided to cross over the road, where Richard was and simply walked out from behind the van.

“He walked into the side of the van by the sound of it.

“It’s quite clear that Mr Mayles had no option at all; there’s nothing he could have done to change the situation.

“It’s clear from the evidence that his van was being driven at an appropriate speed and he stopped as soon as possible.”

A family representative stressed after the hearing that they attached no blame to Graham Mayles. “It was just a tragic accident that Brian was taken from us that morning

“It was just seconds at the wrong place at the wrong time; we don’t want Graham to feel responsible for it.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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