AN INQUEST into the death of a man killed on a construction site in West Thurrock opened today.

Gary Drinkald, 43, from Aylesbury, was a labourer working where a road bridge was being demolished above a railway line on the A1306 near Lakeside Shopping Centre.

He was crushed to death when a 32 tonne concrete slab fell on him in the early hours of April 9 2006.

Home Office Pathologist Benjamin Swift, who conducted the post-mortem the day after Mr Drinkald’s death, told Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray and a jury at County Hall in Chelmsford that he died from Traumatic Asphyxia and multiple injuries.

He said: “The deceased was a contracted labourer.

“A 32 tonne section of concrete was being removed at the time by crane. It was raised onto the back of a lorry and shifted from its position trapping the deceased.

“The post mortem showed bruises, abrasions and evidence of fractures to bones internally.”

Mr Swift told how the slab had pushed down on Mr Drinkald’s lower body causing internal bleeding and fracturing 17 ribs in total.

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray asked Mr Swift to estimate how long it was before Mr Swift died.

He said: “Its always difficult to say when family members are present, but it would have taken a few minutes for death to ensue.”

Mr Swift was also able to confirm that a toxicology report had shown there were painkillers in Mr Drinkald’s system at the time but no alcohol or drugs.

The inquest, which is expected to carry on for as long as three weeks, continues.