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Man killed by falling branch

PUBLISHED: 19:41 29 September 2009 | UPDATED: 09:59 13 July 2010

The death of a man who was killed by a falling branch last week while his son-in-law was helping him to cut down a tree in his garden was an accident, a coroner has ruled.

THE death of a man who was killed by a falling branch while his son-in-law was helping him to cut down a tree in his garden was an accident, a coroner has ruled.

Frank Chatten, 52, of White Horse Common in North Walsham, was pronounced dead at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) on September 22, with his wife Marion by his side.

An inquest heard how Mr Chatten had wanted the tree cut down to provide light for a new flowerbed in his garden, and asked his

son-in-law, Stephen Vout, to

come round and help him on September 20.

But tragedy struck when Mr Vout, who had climbed to the top of

the 30ft tree, cut the last branch off, which knocked Mr Chatten over and fractured his skull.

Mr Vout said that while there was no obvious injury to his father-in-law's head following the incident, ambulance crews explained the severity of Mr Chatten's injury to him, and he did not regain consciousness during his two-day stay at the NNUH.

He said: "He said he wanted help sawing the whole tree down because he had just put a flower bed in and no sunlight could get through onto it. I've done things like this with him before on other occasions - if he needed a hand with something I would always go and help him.

"I was up at the top of the tree and I could see him standing at the bottom, and then the next thing I saw was him laying down on the floor. I didn't see the branch fall on him. I put my hand behind his head to hold it, but it was not clear he had a serious head injury from looking at him."

Coroner William Armstrong said that doctors at the hospital had said he had a traumatic skull fracture, and added: "I am satisfied that this was an accident and so I am going to record a verdict of accidental death."


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