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Matthew Ovenden's death from a chainsaw injury in Ash was a tragic accident

The father of a man who died in an horrific chainsaw accident is urging others not to be complacent when using dangerous power tools.

Matthew Ovenden was fatally injured while cutting logs in the back garden of his home in Nash Road, Ash.

Groundworks contracts manager Matthew Ovenden
Groundworks contracts manager Matthew Ovenden

The 35-year-old groundworks contracts manager was found dead at the scene with a severe neck wound by his partner, who unsuccessfully tried to revive him.

Yesterday (Monday), a coroner recorded the dad-of-two's death had been a tragic accident, and afterwards his father spoke to warn others about the dangers.

"Matthew was experienced with power tools and machinery because of his job, but it still happened," said Nick Ovenden, who runs a plant hire and groundworks business.

"He was very aware of safety measures and would warn others, but it just seems he was complacent on this occasion and wasn't wearing safety clothing. All I can say is that you can never be complacent with this kind of equipment."

A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Ovenden died from a huge loss of blood caused by a neck injury which was consistent with being caused by a chainsaw.

Matthew Ovenden in his racing stock car
Matthew Ovenden in his racing stock car

Tests showed there was no alcohol or drugs in his body which would have have affected his judgment.

Mr Ovenden was discovered by his partner Laura Wilkins when she returned home from a walk.

In a statement read at the inquest she described how she saw Mr Ovenden lying on his back with the chainsaw on his chest.

"It was still running and I had to tug it away from his clothing," she said.

"I did not switch it off because I did not know how to, so I just moved it away."

"I have heard evidence that he was very aware of the dangers of the use of such tools."

Miss Wilkins said that in the two years they had been together, she had never seen Mr Ovenden use the chainsaw at home.

"He would always use the circular saw, which was in a container where the protective clothing was also kept," she said.

She speculated that he may have used the chainsaw on this occasion because it was easier to get to.

The only time she saw him handle a chainsaw, she said, was when he cleared some trees for her sister, when he made point of showing her all the protective equipment you should wear.

She added that although he had been anxious about a contract at work that had gone wrong, there was no suggestion he was suicidal.

"He was a kind soul with a big heart who will be sorely missed."

Police who investigated the death concluded that there were no suspicious circumstances and that the chainsaw Mr Ovenden was using was not faulty.

Summing up the evidence, coroner Joanne Andrews said: "At the time of his death Matthew Ovenden was on his own and not wearing any protective equipment.

"I have heard evidence that he was very aware of the dangers of the use of such tools and had even pointed out to his partner what you should be wearing.

"It is not for me as a coroner to consider why he was using a chainsaw that day, other than to make a finding.

"There is no evidence that Mr Ovenden intended to take his own life and it seems to me, on the balance of probabilities, that this was an accident involving the use of a chainsaw, nothing further."

Matthew Ovenden
Matthew Ovenden

Following his death, tributes poured in for Mr Ovenden, who had two daughters with a previous partner.

His devastated family, including his sister and two brothers, said he was "a kind soul with a big heart" who would be sorely missed.

Mr Ovenden worked for Datum Groundworks, based at Aylesham, and was a keen stock car racer in his spare time, competing at Lydden circuit

Staff at FG Race Fabrications in Eastry, who worked on his cars, paid tribute to him on Facebook, posting: "We had the pleasure of bringing you along in to your career racing stock rods.

"We were part of your journey, fun times we had. Rest in peace boy."

The Health and Safety Executive says chainsaws "have the potential to cause horrific injuries" and have been responsible for at least five deaths and many injuries in recent years.

The HSE says full training and protective equipment is required for employees using them in the workplace.

But chainsaws can also be hired by novices from tool shops, although some require a short handling test before being released.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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