‘Gentle giant’ died on building site days before birth of daughter

A heartbroken family say that nothing can ever bring back their “gentle giant” after an inquest found that he died due to an accident on a Lincoln building site. Harry Cheston, from Rainworth in Nottinghamshire, was carrying out groundwork for a new block of apartments on West Parade in Lincoln as part of a development known as Carruthers Court. The 23-year-old died at the site on January 9, 2020, just a matter of days before his partner Lauren gave birth to their daughter Willow on January 20.

An inquest into the death has been taking place at the Myles Cross Centre in Lincoln this week and it concluded today, February 16, with the jury delivering its verdict that the death was accidental. The jury’s opinion was that the dumper truck being driven by Harry Cheston fell from an embankment on the site and ended up upside down, with Harry being trapped inside and dying from his injuries. The inquest has also heard evidence from Dr Frances Hollingbury, a pathologist, who concluded that Harry Cheston died from crush asphyxia.

The inquest into his death began on Monday, February 14, with the jury hearing that Mr Cheston was driving his dump truck to unload some spoil at a tipping point. Richard Heaven, who was working with Harry on the morning of his death, told the inquest that the tipping point was being accessed by a “pier” at the edge of the higher level on the building site, with the build-up of spoil meaning that this pier stretched out to a length of around 20 metres at one stage. But on the morning of Mr Cheston’s death, when he was unloading spoil from excavation work being carried out by Mr Heaven, the inquest heard that the pier had reduced in length given that much of the spoil had been taken away in lorries.

Floral tributes left next to a building site on Rudgard Lane, Lincoln

Mr Heaven also told the inquest that by January 9, barriers had been installed along the edge of the higher level, with Mr Cheston asking if he could open these to unload spoil on the morning of his death.

Mr Cheston was told by Phillip Hayes to “open the barriers, tip the stuff, get off your dumper and close it again”, according to Mr Heaven. Phillip Hayes worked for the Chesterfield-based company Melfort Construction, which also employed Harry and which had been sub-contracted to the Lindum Group to carry out groundwork on the Carruthers Court development. Mr Hayes gave evidence to the inquest himself yesterday, February 15, confirming that he was the site supervisor on the day of Mr Cheston’s death.

He confirmed that he did allow Harry Cheston to open the barriers on the pier, given that the access road also leading to the tipping point was blocked off. But he said “in hindsight” that it would have been more sensible to have not allowed Harry Cheston to tip at all, and that there should have been more safety measures on the site, such as a stop block at the end of the pier. Marianne Johnson, the assistant coroner for Lincolnshire, said to the family following the jury’s verdict being delivered: “Harry died in such tragic circumstances and all I can do is extend my deepest condolences to you as a family.”

Speaking to Lincolnshire Live following the delivery of the verdict, Harry’s family paid tribute to him as an “amazing person” who would “do anything for anyone.”

'Gentle giant' died on building site days before birth of daughterHarry Cheston with his partner Lauren.

One of his brothers, Sam Gimson, said: “He was a lovely, hard-working young lad and he was such a massive family person and very family-orientated. “He loved watching his football club Notts County and watching the rugby because he wasn’t too much of a going out person, he enjoyed being at home with his family.” Leisa Cheston, Harry’s mum, said: “He did love his family and he was putting all of his time into building a nursery for baby Willow and he’d literally just finished it.

“He didn’t have a nasty bone in his body and wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone and I always called him my gentle giant. He was just beautiful, all my children are beautiful.” Speaking about her thoughts following the conclusion of the inquest, Harry’s partner Lauren added: “Harry was such an amazing person and he would have done anything for anyone.

“The inquest is over now but nothing is going to bring him back, and Willow has missed out on the opportunity of having an amazing dad.”

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