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Warning after woman killed by faulty hedge trimmer

The mother of a woman killed by a faulty hedge trimmer warned others of the dangers of electrical goods malfunctioning.

Laura Hobday, who had three children, was gardening when she received a fatal electric shock trying to clear the device after it got jammed with leaves.

It later emerged the pin section of the socket was put together incorrectly.

Miss Hobday, 35, was found lying barefoot in the garden of her home in Ringmer, Lewes, East Sussex, by friends who became concerned when she failed to collect one of her sons from nursery school.

Her youngest boy Joshua, who was then 22 months old, was found sleeping beside her. East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of accidental death after an inquest yesterday.

Speaking after the hearing concluded, her mother Jan Hobday said: "Laura was operating the trimmer and had no knowledge of its history. Leaves had got stuck in it, so she took part of it off to clear it, thinking that would make it safe.

"That's the kind of thing anyone would do. What she didn't realise was that the bit she touched was still connected to the mains plug. She didn't know that was where the danger lay."

Mrs Hobday, from Bedford, described her daughter, who was a business law graduate, as a "brilliant mother" who would not have taken any unnecessary risks.

"Laura was a very intelligent woman," the 55-year-old said. "But she still made that decision that she thought was safe.

"She would never have taken any risks. She was a brilliant mother who loved her children. She was very careful with their car seats and their diets.

"This goes to show that we are all very vulnerable to these kind of events. Laura did something any of us could have done."

Mrs Hobday urged others to take care when using such items and to have them fixed by experts if anything went wrong.

Her grandchildren Zach, six, Luc, four, and Josh, nearly three, are now cared for by their father Gary Neale, who was separated from Miss Hobday.

Mrs Hobday added: "She gave them a very good grounding. She was a lovely mother and did all the right things for them. She made them laugh all the time and brought great joy to their lives."

Neighbour Victoria Morris said Miss Hobday was a good friend of hers. She and friend Adrienne Purdon were the first to find Miss Hobday in the afternoon of June 2 last year. Emergency services were called but it was too late to save her.

Mr Craze said the death was caused by an error in a home repair on the wiring, The Argus newspaper reported. It emerged the two ends of the socket were attached in the wrong way and that the accident could have been averted by fitting a cheap, plug-in circuit breaker.

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