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Police blunder before substation tragedy
POLICE sent electricity engineers to the wrong place while officers tried to talk a man down off a substation.
Richie Powell suffered horrific burns when he was hit by an arc of current in Spring Gardens, Brighton, early on October 25, and later died in hospital.
Sussex Police told UK Power Networks about the emergency but gave the company the postcode of a substation in Spring Gardens, Southwick, instead.
A patrol car was sent to pick up an engineer in Portslade and rush him to the scene of the stand-off but he arrived only minutes before Mr Powell was injured.
Yesterday, jurors at the inquest into the 40-year-old’s death heard evidence from Chief Insp Steve Brookman, of the Sussex Police operational communications department, and electrical engineers from UK Power Networks.
The firm’s control engineer, Jamie Beale, told the hearing that it would have taken as little as six or seven minutes to shut off the transformer which injured Mr Powell remotely by computer.
But he said it would take an hour to fully earth and isolate the system to make it safe to touch.
An inquest at Brighton has been hearing evidence since Thursday to investigate the circumstances of Mr Powell’s death.
He had been arrested in a sex assault inquiry which was later dropped, and had given an interview to The Argus in an attempt to clear his name.
The manager of William Collier House, the YMCA hostel where he was staying in North Road, said Mr Powell had become paranoid, believing people wanted to attack him because of the allegation.
He climbed out of a first-floor window before getting into the sub- station behind the hostel and calling police to threaten suicide.
He suffered 85% burns when he was hit by the current.
The inquest continues