Berkshire

Payout bid fails over Christopher Imison tree-branch-death

The partner of a Berkshire man killed by a falling tree branch has failed in her bid for compensation.

Christopher Imison, 53, of Sandhurst, was fatally injured by the oak branch in August 2007, close to the boundary with Windsor Great Park, in Surrey.

Last October, a county court judge dismissed a negligence action brought against Surrey County Council by his partner Joanne Micklewright.

At the Court of Appeal earlier, Mr Justice Hedley upheld the ruling.

Miss Micklewright was seeking £500,000 in damages after the accident in Wick Lane, Englefield Green, which happened as Mr Imison was unloading bicycles from his car.

Mr Justice Hedley, sitting with Lord Justice Mummery and Lord Justice Patten, told the court Mr Imison, a communications manager for the Ministry of Defence at Porton Down, had decided to go on a bike ride with Miss Micklewright and their 13-year-old son David.

'Catastrophic loss'

He said: "Tragically it was the last thing they ever did together for as Mr Imison was unloading their bicycles from the family car, he was struck and fatally injured by an oak tree branch weighing nearly a ton which broke away from the trunk some 25ft above where he was standing.

"It is always discomforting where a family without any culpability, having suffered a catastrophic loss, are forced to do so without compensation but this is the inevitable result of a law which ties compensation to proof of negligence."

The judge said the council, which had responsibility for two million trees along 3,600 miles (5,800km) of road, had no proper system of inspection in place at the time of the accident - despite a 1975 Department of Environment (DoE) advice - although it was in the process of developing one.

There were no written records in respect of the 100ft (30m) high, 300-year-old oak tree, and the bulk of the debris was cleared before a full investigation took place.

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