Luke Bray’s boss has given evidence about his electrocution at an inquest into his death. Picture: Facebook
Luke Bray’s boss has given evidence about his electrocution at an inquest into his death. Picture: Facebook

Traumatic moment boss found tradie dead

An experienced carpenter who found his new worker electrocuted in the roof of a Sydney home has told an inquest into the death he hasn't been in a roof since.

"We don't really do any repair work anymore due to this," Brett Anderson, 36, told the NSW Coroner's Court on Tuesday.

"If there was anything in the ceiling, I'd probably just outsource it."

Carpenter Luke Bray, 24, was killed while replacing timber beams in the sagging ceiling of a Carlton home, in Sydney's south, in February 2017.

He had only recently been decommissioned from the navy, having started out in carpentry when he was 15 before pursuing a career change, and contacted Mr Anderson via Facebook asking about some work.

Victim Luke Bray. Picture: Facebook
Victim Luke Bray. Picture: Facebook

The pair met on February 19 that year for an interview, two days before the fatal incident.

Mr Anderson, who has been a carpenter for about 20 years, said he had met Mr Bray briefly on tour as a musician and "established we had some kind of connection" after the 24-year-old made contact.

"It just so happened that this job popped up and I could sort of provide a little bit of work as we needed an extra hand, so that's how it came to be that Luke was on this site," he told Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott on Tuesday.

Before his evidence, counsel assisting the coroner Sergeant Steve Kelly told Mr Anderson he would not be making any statement at the closure of the inquest "that you or your company's actions in any way caused or contributed to the death of Luke Bray".

He said the purpose of questioning Mr Anderson was to establish "a little bit more information" as to what he recalled from that fateful day.

"We weren't doing any electrical work, we were purely replacing structural beams on the roof side not the ceiling side," Mr Anderson said.

Luke Bray met with Brett Anderson two days before his death. Picture: Facebook
Luke Bray met with Brett Anderson two days before his death. Picture: Facebook

After a prior external site inspection, they removed the tarp sealing the property's roof, removed the broken timbers inside, installed a new hip rafter, started installing new rafters and brought in the larger beams.

"Then basically as we were strapping the beams down and strutting the rafters is pretty much when it happened," he said.

He said Mr Bray had been nailing the last strap after "nine or 10 during the day of the exact same thing".

Mr Anderson had been working about five metres away with Sean O'Toole on another section of the rafters.

"I needed someone to pull the rafter straight before fixing it so it was a two-person job," he said.

The roof of the Carlton home where Luke Bray died. Picture: Active Media
The roof of the Carlton home where Luke Bray died. Picture: Active Media

But when Mr O'Toole asked Mr Bray if he needed anything from the ground while he was going down, there was no response.

"After the second, I think, no response, is when I got pretty concerned," Mr Anderson said.

"I ran straight over and saw that his arm was outstretched holding onto something.

"I grabbed his shoe, I think, and just shook it and he didn't do anything.

"I think I screamed at Sean, (the thing to do) so you don't get killed yourself is to basically get a length of timber or something nonconductive and basically whack it off, break their arm if you have to.

"Sean for whatever reason (was taking too long), I just made the decision to grab his belt and just try and rip him off which I did."

He was 24. Picture: Facebook
He was 24. Picture: Facebook

In his opening address on Monday, Sgt Kelly said Mr Bray had been holding a frayed cable in his right hand with the copper wiring exposed.

He said Mr Bray's colleagues had heard a noise before finding him electrocuted with one initially thinking he was singing to himself.

The 24-year-old had an electrical burn wound on his right hand and blisters on the other hand.

A limited post-mortem examination of external signs determined his cause of death was electrocution.

In summarising the findings of an Ausgrid installation inspector, Sgt Kelly said "the consumer mains where the accident occurred were found to have been tampered with", there was "evidence of previous illegal connection" and a conductor had been "terminated in a careless manner".

In court today, Craig Hall - who was a SafeWork NSW principal investigator at the time of the incident - gave evidence the cut in the frayed cable was not a "natural phenomena".

"It's definitely man-made and definitely deliberate," he said.

Mr Hall said while workers have a duty to identify, assess and control associated risks at each site, isolating power at the home "wasn't within" the scope of works undertaken by Mr Anderson's company Hypsec.

"I would not think it was reasonably practicable to isolate the power in any way, shape or form," he said.

Sgt Kelly said the purpose of the inquest is to determine the manner and cause of Mr Bray's death and "if possible, who was responsible for creating the illegal bypass in the ceiling" of the Carlton property.

He said this included who installed the electrical bypass system and who removed it.

Police allege the brother of a former female tenant was responsible for setting up the illegal wiring for the purposes of stealing electricity from the grid.

The inquest continues.

He had returned to carpentry after time in the navy. Picture: Facebook
He had returned to carpentry after time in the navy. Picture: Facebook

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