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Widower calls for law change

Husband of electrocuted young mum calls for wiring law change

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

THE husband of a young mother who died just days after moving into their dream home on the Roseland has called for a change in the law on electrical installations.

Earlier this month the deputy coroner for Cornwall, Andrew Cox, recorded a verdict of accidental death following the electrocution of 33-year-old Thirza Whittall in Portscatho in March last year, just days after the couple moved into the village with their two young children.

Investigations conducted by the police and Cornwall Council Trading Standards department established that an electric heater used at the property was defective and that the electric wiring at the property was not earthed. As a result of the combined effect of the two, the bath taps were live. Now Mr Whittall has called for a change in the law, which he believes allowed this incident to occur and which puts others at risk.

“While landlords of rented properties are obliged to provide an annual gas safety certificate, no such regulation applies in relation to electrical wiring in rented properties,” said Mr Whittall.

“As we have learned to our cost, a fault in an electrical installation is every bit as dangerous as a faulty gas supply. Steps should be taken to ensure that the same standard of care is required in relation to all potential hazards at a property so that no other family should suffer as we have.”

Chris Thorne, a partner at Foot Anstey solicitors representing the Whittall family, said: “While there is a general duty on landlords to ensure that premises are safe for tenants, the absence of a specific regulation in respect of electricity supply has resulted in this property, and possibly many others like it, being rented out for many years without any professional examination of the electrical installation. In a part of the world where rented properties form a significant proportion of the housing stock this needs to be addressed if further tragedies are to be avoided.

“The family have asked that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. Any change in the law can do nothing to ease their loss but it may prevent another young family from suffering similar tragedy.”