ELO death farmers cleared

November 23, 2012

Two farmers accused of health and safety offences related to the death of Electric Light Orchestra cellist Mike Edwards have been cleared.

Edwards was working as a van driver in September 2010 when a 600kg hay bale rolled off a Devon hillside and crushed his vehicle, killing him instantly.

An inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death in 2011, but Brian Burden and Russell Williams were accused of having failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment before the accident.

Williams, 23, told Plymouth Crown Court he had ejected the hay from a baling machine in accordance with operation guidelines, and it had landed securely in the field on a clear, dry day.

Following the tragedy, Edwards’ family called for new safety regulations to be introduced, in the hope of preventing a repeat accident.

Edwards was 62 when he died. He joined ELO in 1972 and played at their first-ever live show, making a name for himself with a performance that included an exploding cello. He left the band two years later. He also recorded with Barclay James Harvest and had continued to teach cello and play with folk, jazz and classical groups. He was a founding member of the Devon Baroque Orchestra.

-Classic Rock Magazine

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