Confirmed cases
Updated on June 5, 2020 4:29 am
Updated on June 5, 2020 4:29 am
Updated on June 5, 2020 4:29 am

Coroner Says Death Of British Man In Saint Lucia Was Preventable

The Guardian:–  The death of a British man (Martin Ellis) who was electrocuted at a dam in St Lucia while on holiday with his three sons could have been prevented by signs warning the public not to enter, a coroner has concluded.

Martin Ellis, 68, from Dartmouth Park, north London, a businessman and the main carer for his disabled wife, was killed when he touched a pipe on the site of the John Compton Dam on the Caribbean island on 16 August last year.

His teenage sons heard him cry out when he went to urinate behind a hut, the roof of which they were sheltering under during a rain shower, and discovered him face down in the mud.

Wasco (Water and Sewage Company), the state-owned entity that runs the dam, said the site was not open to the general public and Ellis should not have been there. However, at an inquest into Ellis’s death on Thursday, St Pancras coroner’s court heard that the only warning sign had been obscured and workers the family had passed had not tried to prevent them proceeding.

The senior coroner for inner north London, Mary Hassell, said: “There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that if there had been appropriate signage warning the public not to visit the dam then Martin Ellis and his family would not have visited the dam. Instead there was one sign covered in foliage, there was a knee-high chain and there were construction workers who gave directions.”

The court heard that the day after Ellis’s death, the foliage was cut back to show the sign and a new sign was later installed at the site.

Excerpts were read out from a condemnatory report by an insurance investigator, suggesting that the St Lucian authorities’ handling of the case had been affected by a desire to minimise bad publicity.

Phil Peart noted that Edmund Regis, Wasco’s general manager, had been uncooperative initially.

Peart said the island, which relies on tourism, had already suffered a blow from the death of Hannah Defoe, 20, the cousin of the former England striker Jermain Defoe. She died when she dived into a hotel swimming pool on the island in 2012 and was electrocuted.

Peart said: “It’s not hard to see why the island’s government would not welcome another high profile case where another British national has been electrocuted on the island.”

Hassell said the St Lucian authorities had failed to provide the inquest with the electrician’s investigation into why the pipe was live, so she was unable to make a determination on that matter.

Ellis, managing director of a print services company, was the main carer for his wife Amy Silverston, who has MS, and who was in court along with their eldest son Lucian, 20. In testimony, Lucian Ellis related how he had received shocks himself as he had dragged his father away from the pipe, and said they had assumed the knee-high chain was just to prevent vehicular access.

He also said that when police officers had arrived they had stood around joking, and that despite there being more than 10 of them they had asked him to help move his father’s body, a situation Hassell described as “profoundly disappointing”.

After the inquest, Ellis’s eldest son described his father as “an extraordinary man, filled with love and kindness”. He continued: “Without him an enormous void has been created. An example being my mum, Amy, who is severely disabled and no longer has a carer, a breadwinner or a loving husband.”

Hassell said she would be making a prevention of future deaths report to the St Lucian high commissioner in London.


  1. That’s a damaging report. Not surprise about the fence, signage, overgrown shrubs, etc. That’s how some businesses operate. It’s only after the fact that they are pursuing changes. I hope that these changes are permanent. No one should ever be at the receiving end of such carelessness. Especially when there is an electrified pipe involved. You should have all kinds of signage stating the dangers. Especially when it involves a pipe and not a wire. I hope Wasco sees this as a teachable moment and uses this as incentive to look at other areas under their care that requires the same amount of precautions and vigilance.

  2. ” Hassel said she would be making a prevention of future deaths report to the St Lucian High Commissioner in London” . Good luck with that LAPO Hight Commissioner Guy Myers that just sitting there all day eating caviar and spending poor people monies to please his Grey Poupon Lifestyle. There goes ANOTHER rate increase, they better not build that HQ just yet, because WASCO will have to fork over more than the cost of the building and everybody’s mother when they get thru with them. “When the officers arrived they had stood around “JOKING” and despite there been 10 of them they had ask him to help move his fathers body”, said the eldest chap. THE ABSOLUTE SHAME OF IT. We and the Bloody British, Hannah Defoe, Husband and wife on the boat in VF countless others to mention, when we done we cuss Jamaicans as if to say “our reputation” in the British Press is far superior, yeah right.

    • That’s St. Lucia for you my friend. Justice is only for the select few. TO HELL WITH YOU IF YOU DON’T HAVE A RECOGNISABLE NAME!!!

  3. Very sad situation. A lesson to learn from both sides. They could have possibly clarified the chains and the signage. As a St Lucian living in england my heart goes out to the family to lose their loved one in such a tragic way. Sad that they said the police officers were there laughing and joking and asked the family to help them move the corpse. Very appalling behaviour from the police. That is very unprofessional and a bit more compassion should have been shown to the family in this regard. But what concerns me is that they state the deceased was in an “unauthorised” area hence he got electrocuted. But does that not mean any of the “authorised” people like staff/workers could have been electrocuted by that pipe the same way. The construction workers themselves showed the the family where to go so they themselves were not aware that it was an “unauthorised area” Surely lots to learn from the incident. It really is not a time to get arrogant but a time to see what changes can be made to move forward positively.

  4. I don’t get it? of all the beautiful places to go and hike. All the trails that are available. And you pick the one leading to a crappy old dam? Makes zero sense. unfortunately he was the author of his own demise.

    • They were en route to some bird sanctuary and wanted to see the lake. They had no idea what the dam end environs would be like.

      If you can’t feel safe on government property, where can you consider safe?

      How dare you blame him for his own death?

      • What’s beautiful to them might not be crappy to you or others. Such a messed up thing to say. You are blaming him for doing what people do.

  5. It could have been any worker on the site.The sign Welcoming all to the dam is still there.Now you have half a dozen signs.This is all the fault and the disdain of WASCO The John Compton Dam that was built 28 years ago,has been suffering from the lack of proper mantainance,nobody cares,and nobody knows a thing.The silting of the dam,the acces road,the pump station,nobody cares.workers coocking their meals on a coal pot on the floor,day and night,workers spend 24 seven on the site plus the security guards .

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