Fears over safety after death of man electrocuted on artificial football pitch

The scene at Mountbatten Leisure Centre in Portsmouth as police investigate the death
The scene at Mountbatten Leisure Centre in Portsmouth as police investigate the death

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Fears have been raised over public safety after the death of a taxi driver who was electrocuted on an artificial football pitch in Portsmouth.

City Wide Taxis worker Albert Xhediku suffered an electric shock near the Mountbatten Centre on Sunday evening.

Albert Xhediku's cab at Mountbatten Leisure Centre in Portsmouth

Albert Xhediku's cab at Mountbatten Leisure Centre in Portsmouth

He died at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham despite desperate efforts to save his life.

Mountbatten Centre operator Parkwood Community Leisure and external health and safety consultants are now leading a probe into the circumstances around the 34-year-old’s death.

The pitch and the entrance to nearby Portsmouth Tennis Centre have been closed until further notice.

Community leaders have serious concerns for safety and are urging experts to establish as soon as possible what happened so the public know whether the death could have been avoided.

There is a huge issue with safety here; someone has been killed. We need to know whether this could have been prevented and make sure people are safe.

Portsmouth Lib Dem leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson

Portsmouth Lib Dem leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘There is a huge issue with safety here; someone has been killed. We need to know whether this could have been prevented and make sure people are safe.

‘It may have been a very tragic accident, but it may have been something that needs fixing. We need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.’

Passers-by saw paramedics desperately try to give the man CPR shortly after they were called to the centre at 6.30pm on Sunday.

Police cordoned off the 3G-turfed seven-a-side playing area, which has a metal cage surrounding it.

A spokesman for Parkwood Community Leisure, which operates the centre on behalf of the city council, said: ‘We have launched a formal investigation into this incident alongside our Health and Safety consultants from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the gentleman’s family and friends at this difficult time.’

A spokesman at Portsmouth Coroner’s Office said they had now been informed of Mr Xhediku’s death.

The council also paid its respects to the victim and his family.

Council chief executive David Williams said: ‘We are deeply saddened this has happened and our thoughts are with the family. Our centre operator Parkwood Leisure will be assisting the police with their investigations.’

The Health and Safety Executive have been informed, but have no involvement at this stage. A passing police officer was flagged down as the tragedy happened before he then alerted his colleagues.

People took to social media to express the shock and surprise at what happened.

Natalie Cook said: ‘RIP. Thoughts are with the family and friends at this sad time, what a sad way to start the year gone too soon xx.’

Pauline Jenkins said: ‘To the man I just seen having cpr on Mountbatten playing fields, hope they got you to hospital in time.’

Southern Electric said its engineers had attended to ensure the area was safe.

A Hampshire Police spokeswoman said: ‘Police were alerted to an incident at Mountbatten Leisure Centre’s outside football pitch at about 6.40pm on Sunday.

‘Next of kin have been informed.’

RoSPA said there would be a site visit this week and that it would then work with Parkwood to ensure that a similar incident did not happen again.

Resident John Cass, of nearby Twyford Avenue, spoke of his concern.

He said: Obviously it’s very distressing to hear – no-one likes to hear about this happening.

‘Our sympathies go out to his family.’

A council source said it is thought that the accident happened during a game of football, but this has not been confirmed by the authorities.

Despite the closures, visitors can still use the tennis facility via a new temporary access that has been put in.