Binman Peter Coleman died after being dragged under lorry

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Bin lorry death cene
Image caption,
Peter Coleman had reversed his lorry into the bin area, a court heard

A binman with 20 years' experience was killed when he was dragged under the wheels of his lorry, a court has heard.

Peter Coleman, 54, from Dunstable, was working alone at the Woodside Leisure Park in Watford in October 2014 when he became trapped under the rear axle.

He had tried to stop the Volvo lorry rolling down an embankment.

His employers F & R Cawley Limited pleaded not guilty at Luton Crown Court to offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Tyres on fire

The court heard Mr Coleman was on a route that would take him to 20 different sites where he would operate a mechanism that lifted bins and tipped their contents into the back of the lorry.

He had driven the refuse collection vehicle into the leisure park on Kingsway just after 06:00 GMT on 11 October.

CCTV from the site showed him reversing into an alleyway to the bin area. As he was operating the lifting system the lorry began to move away.

Prosecutor Vivek D'Cruz said the vehicle was "driverless and moved towards a downward and sloping embankment".

"In a panic, to stop the runaway vehicle, he chased and fell and got caught under its wheels," he said.

There was an explosion and the tyres were on fire, he told the jury.

'Fundamentally unsafe state'

When the emergency services arrived, a firefighter turned off the ignition and put the lorry into neutral.

"He was trapped for some considerable time before being freed. Tragically, he passed away a short time later in hospital," the prosecutor said.

Mr D'Cruz told the jury that maintenance records show continued problems with the lorry's brakes.

He said: "The prosecution say there is clear and compelling evidence that when the incident occurred the vehicle was in a fundamentally unsafe state."

F and R Cawley Limited, of Covent Garden Close, Luton, has denied four charges of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The case continues.

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