Telegraph reports Jennifer Kelly's fatal injury case against St Lucia government-owned WASCO | Fieldfisher
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Telegraph reports Jennifer Kelly's fatal injury case against St Lucia government-owned WASCO

Jennifer Kelly is representing the wife and sons of Martin Ellis who was fatally electrocuted on holiday in St Lucia in 2019.

Mr Ellis and his three sons were visiting the Sir John Compton Dam in the quarter of Anse-La-Raye in St Lucia, a picturesque tourist destination.  Martin parked the hire car and was given directions to the dam by a group of workers in a white pick-up truck clearly connected to the dam premises. 

Martin and his sons were walking to the upper part of the dam when it began to rain heavily. They took shelter under the overhanging roof of a building understood to be a pump house. Martin went to the back of the building to urinate.

Shortly afterwards, Martin shouted out which caused his sons to check on him. When they did so, they found Martin lying face down on the ground. Unbeknown to his sons, Martin had come into contact with live electrical wiring.

There followed an extended period of time when one of Martin's sons attempted to rescue and resuscitate him, and when they suffered acute psychological shock. Martin died in front of his sons. Because of a lack of mobile phone coverage, they had to wait nearly two hours for help to arrive.

Mr Ellis' wife Amy Silverston spoke to the Telegraph to highlight the appalling response from WASCO and two other defendants who claim the party was trespassing and that Mr Ellis was causing a public nuisance by urinating.

Below is part of the Telegraph interview with Ms Silverston who has progressive multiple sclerosis. Her condition has seriously deteriorated since the death of her husband.

'Despite an official engineer finding that the electrical set-up breached regulations and recommending its immediate replacement, the St Lucian government-owned Water and Sewerage Company (Wasco) is refusing to pay out.

Part of its defence is that Mr Ellis should not have been intending to urinate in public, arguing that to do so would have been "illegal, unsanitary and likely to be injurious to public health".

The tragedy is the second known death of a British tourist due to electrocution on St Lucia in a decade.

In 2012, Hannah Defoe, the 20-year-old cousin of former England footballer Jermain Defoe, died when she was electrocuted in a swimming pool by a 180-volt charge running through the water.

Mr Ellis’s family believe the authorities in St Lucia are desperate to avoid further negative headlines about safety standards on the island, which is heavily reliant on tourism. British holidaymakers making up the second-largest contingent at 30 per cent of the market.

Lucian Ellis, who was 19 at the time, was himself electrocuted several times as he tried to turn over his father’s body in order to administer CPR. With no phone reception, he and his brothers had to wait nearly two hours for help.

Amy Silverston, Mr Ellis’s widow, described Wasco’s legal tactics as "ridiculous". "For decency’s sake Martin just wanted to get out of sight and have a pee where he couldn’t be seen," she told The Telegraph.

"He is the second British tourist to be electrocuted on St Lucia, and on government property. If you can’t be safe on government property, where can you be?

"They clearly don’t care about health and safety."

At the time of the incident, Ms Silverston, 60, an advertising expert, was still able to walk and expected to remain mobile for many years. However, multiple sclerosis is notoriously sensitive to stress, and within three months she was confined to a wheelchair.

"My consultant said 'you’re deteriorating in front of my eyes'," she said.

As well as dealing with the trauma of their father’s death, the boys had to learn how to run the household.

"Listening to your 14-year-old folding laundry at midnight is heartbreaking," said Ms Silverston.

'The response from those responsible in St Lucia is disgraceful'

Mr Ellis, from west London, was a pioneer in software development, creating a multimedia platform for the National Gallery in the 1990s, which became a model for similar institutions across the world.

The family is also suing Vinci Construction Maritime ET Fluvial and Mega Contracting INC, a Wasco contractor and subcontractor respectively.

Part of the defence case is to argue that the four tourists were trespassing near the dam and behaved negligently themselves.

However, the family argue that they were given directions willingly by workmen and that warning signs were covered in foliage, although hastily uncovered in the immediate aftermath of the electrocution.

None of the defendants responded to The Telegraph’s request for comment.

Jennifer Kelly told the Telegraph: "Considering the devastating loss to the whole family and the significant psychological injuries suffered by Martin's children who tried to save their father with CPR and then witnessed his horrific death, the response from those responsible in St Lucia is disgraceful.

"We will continue to ask questions about electrical safety standards on the island and pursue justice for Amy and her three sons."

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