Storm Doris Victim Was Killed By 'Decaying' Plywood Heating Cover

A Wolverhampton university worker was killed during Storm Doris by a 'decayed and neglected' heating tank cover which had fallen from the top of a shopping centre.

Tahnie Martin received multiple head injuries after being struck by the piece of wood, which measured 2 metres by 1.5 metres in size, during the storm.

At the opening of her inquest at Black Country Coroners Court on Thursday, the hearing was told the debris which 'showed signs of decay and neglect' had come from the 'upper most part' of the Mander shopping centre. 

The 29-year-old, from Brunswick Terrace, Stafford, was pronounced dead at the scene. A postmortem revealed Ms Martin died from multiple head injuries. The cover also struck Ms Martin's friend, who received leg injuries, just outside Starbucks on Dudley Street, the inquest heard. 

Speaking at the inquest, Detective Sergeant John Garbett said CCTV footage had captured the moment Miss Martin, a marketing manager, was struck. He said:

“Our investigations discovered the debris had come from the upper most part of the Mander shopping centre. It was part of a cover for an old heating tank and showed signs of decay and neglect.”

He said police would not be pursuing a criminal investigation for corporate manslaughter and had handed investigations over to the city council’s environmental health department. The owners of the Mander shopping centre hadn’t been formally approached yet.

Mr Zafar Siddique, Black Country Coroner, adjourned proceedings until April 26 for further investigations to be made and a full hearing to take place. He said:

“I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of Miss Martin. It is an absolutely tragic set of circumstances.”

Dozens of flowers were left outside Starbucks in Wolverhampton City Centre. University of Wolverhampton Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer, said:

“We are all deeply saddened by this tragic loss. “During Tahnie’s short time at the University, she made a real impact both in a professional and personal capacity.

"She became a very popular member of the team and was highly valued.”


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