Glasgow & West Scotland

Toddler Liam Boyle's plug death 'was avoidable'

Liam Boyle
Image caption Liam died after plugging in leftover cabling at his home in Glasgow

An inquiry into the death of a toddler who was electrocuted has found that he would be alive if a handyman working in his Glasgow home had tidied up.

Liam Boyle, died aged 21 months, after inserting leftover cabling into a wall socket in February 2009.

A fatal accident inquiry heard how Daniel Rough and assistant Simon Burns fitted an oven at the Hillington house.

Sheriff Ian Miller said Mr Rough ought to have recognised the potential danger of leaving cabling behind.

The inquiry heard how the toddler was believed to have picked up a severed plug and cable with bare wires in the kitchen.

It is thought he then placed the plug in a socket in his toy room and touched the exposed live and neutral wires.

Liam was discovered by his mother, Claire Hughes, 32, who tried to revive him through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but he could not be saved.

The inquiry heard how it was likely that the toddler died within seconds of touching the live wires.

'Reasonable precautions'

Sheriff Miller issued his written judgement following the fatal accident inquiry into Liam's death at Glasgow Sheriff Court last month.

He wrote: "The primary responsibility for satisfying the reasonable precautions of keeping the new cable and plug in a place where Liam could not get at them while the work was being done, and for removing them as part of the necessary task of clearing up whatever tools and equipment he had brought to the house must rest with the person undertaking the job, Mr Rough.

"He knew that Liam, a small boy, was in the living room while he was carrying out the task of replacing the old oven in the next door room, the kitchen.

"He ought to have taken account of Liam's presence and young age to the extent of recognising that his work equipment of whatever description, and that includes the new cable and plug, would be a source of interest if not fascination to Liam.

"By reason of his young age, this brought with it a significantly enhanced risk that the natural curiosity of a small boy had the potential to lead him into doing something that might injure himself even if his mother were also present in the same room."

Massive shock

Sheriff Miller said he accepted the evidence of expert witness James Madden, a principal specialist inspector in electrical engineering with the Health and Safety Executive.

Mr Madden had concluded that little Liam had "grasped the bare wires of the live conductor in one hand and the bare wires of the neutral conductor in the other".

Sheriff Miller added:" At that time the cable was energised. As a consequence alternating current at the strength of the national supply flowed through his hands, arms and across his chest.

"The effect of that current passing through his body caused a massive shock to his heart. His death followed almost instantaneously.

"It is a merciful grace to Liam that in all probability he died before he realised what was happening to him and before he had the opportunity to feel pain."

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