A Devon tipper lorry driver died after he was electrocuted when the hydraulic arm of his vehicle came into contact with an overhead powerline.

VB Farms LLP has now been fined £60,000 following the death of 43-year-old Patrick ‘Paddy’ Rice in May 2021.

Rice, who was employed by Langford Plant Hire, was delivering stone that was going to be used to repair farm tracks in Crediton by VB Farms LLP, when the hydraulic arm of the tipper lorry came into contact with an 11kV overhead power line.

He was electrocuted after exiting the lorry.

An investigation into the incident found VB Farms LLP failed to carry out an assessment of how the work could be completed safely and did not consider the dangers involved with working near an overhead power line.

Overhead power lines typically carry electricity at voltages similar to the 11 kV in this case, but can go up to 400 kV.

Fran Rice, Paddy’s mother, said in a statement: “Paddy was an extremely practical person.

“He had loads of friends and was very popular and liked adventures.

“Since the loss of Paddy, we are all traumatised and deeply shocked. It has all been hazy. We find it difficult to talk about what happened.

“Gordon, Paddy’s dad, does not talk a lot about it. We are living in a life that is carrying on and ours isn’t, we are not fitting in, we go out and want to enjoy what we do but it is never quite there.”

Michele Webber, Paddy’s partner, said in her victim personal statement: “When the accident happened, I was off work for about five months.

“My memory is terrible since it happened and I am stuck on the day of the accident. I feel like I have no purpose or joy and no future.”

HSE inspector James Collins said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident – another sad reminder of the dangers of overhead power lines. Paddy’s death could easily have been prevented if VB Farms LLP had acted to manage the risks involved and put in place a safe system of work.”

The HSE said the company was also ordered to pay costs of £11,715 after a trial at Exeter Magistrates’ Court.