England

Men died after broken stairlift falls, inquest told

Two elderly men died of severe injuries after their stairlifts snapped in their homes in Kent and London and they fell down stairs, an inquest has heard.

The men, both 79, were using stairlifts from Acorn Stairlifts when the equipment failed in 2013.

James Bell, of Ramsgate, had head and chest injuries and George Bathmaker, of Mitcham, had a spinal injury and cardiac arrest, the inquest was told.

Westminster Coroner's Court heard Acorn recalled components after the deaths.

Forensic services expert James Rennie said he had concerns about the designs of the stairlifts.

He said he accepted testing had shown the design was fit for purpose but said he would personally have made changes by using different metal welds.

Chartered engineer Karl Evans said the original design was adequate.

He said: "If the weld was properly executed to the design specification there would not have been a failure."

'Parts recalled'

Alexandra Tampakopoulos, representing Acorn, said the incidents were the only two reported from 120,000 stairlifts over four years.

She said after the deaths, Acorn Stairlifts recalled and replaced more than 200 components.

Of those, 38 were found to have weld defects, but under rigorous testing, none suffered cracks or similar issues.

A spokeswoman for Acorn Stairlifts said the company had taken responsibility for the incidents and acted to ensure they were not repeated.

She said the company wanted to reassure customers Acorn Stairlifts were safe and there had been no further incidents.

The inquest continues.

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