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Peter Westropp death was accidental, inquest jury rules
THE death of a hugely popular Shortlands man killed by a piece of falling masonry outside a Battersea brasserie was an accident an inquest jury has ruled.
Surveyor Peter Westropp was struck on the head by more than 50kg of rubble after an awning collapsed as he drank with friends outside Le Bouchon Bar in Battersea Rise, on August 10 last year.
The 27-year-old, of Scott's Lane, Shortlands, was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering "devastating head injuries", Westminster Deputy Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said.
On Monday, it was revealed that a quad bike and a Ford Galaxy, owned by Wandsworth Council, crashed into the restaurant in March last year damaging the front of the building.
But Ehamparam Sasikndarajah, a senior building control officer at the council, told the inquest he inspected the damage to the building and decided it was not an "immediate danger to the public".
The inquest jury, who took just two hours to return a verdict of accidental death yesterday (October 9), said the specific cause of the falling masonry could not be determined.
But they pointed the finger at the stability of ornamental stones attached to the front of the 130-year-old building which had "degraded" due to both the absence of, and corrosion of, metal ties.
The weight of a safety chain securing the awning to the front of the restaurant may also have had a destabilising influence, the jury said.
Dr Radcliffe promised to contact the Health and Safety Executive to encourage "more preventative measures" to identify potentially dangerous buildings.
The falling masonry narrowly missed four of Mr Westropp's friends including Simon Mantell, who said: "The chair I was on collapsed and I was suddenly on the floor, covered in dust and rubble.
"I looked at Pete and saw he was leaning towards me across the table.
"His eyes were open but were bloodshot and he was barely conscious and white matter was coming out of his mouth."
Friends of Mr Westropp, an ardent Arsenal fan, created a plaque after his death which is in the club's memorial hall at The Emirates Stadium.
His father John, told the inquest: "Peter's death has left a gaping hole in our lives and he is sadly missed by so many people.
"Peter is dead and we're not looking for blame.
"If you can get something to prevent this happening in the future, that is all I'm after."
Following his death tributes poured in, with close friends describing him as a "living legend" who was the "life and soul of any party".
Paying tribute to him, Dr Radcliffe said: "He was obviously a much loved man.
"A sociable, happy, outgoing individual who had a huge number of friends and who will be sadly missed by his parents and brother."
Dr Radcliffe said it was "touching" that a memorial trust has now been set up in his honour.