A YOUNG man was killed by electrocution while he and his friend stole copper cables from a railway line, an inquest heard.

Paul Fowkes, 20, was killed trespassing on railway tracks near Fort Road, Tilbury, last July.

The inquest into Mr Fowkes’ death, held in County Hall, Chelmsford on Tuesday, heard how Mr Fowkes, of Kelvin Road, Tilbury, and friend Jay Cosans, 22, went to the railway line at midnight to steal the cables.

Speaking at the inquest, Mr Cosans, of Leighton Gardens, Tilbury, said the pair went on to the tracks at Dock Road, near Tilbury station and walked towards East Tilbury station.

He said he and Paul had already collected three or four copper wires, which they left coiled-up at the side of the track ready to pick up later, when tragedy struck.

He said: “We saw another cable and Paul managed to pull it down, but the other end flicked up and hit a live cable.

“There was an orange flash and I heard him scream and he collided with me.

“I remember getting up off the floor. I had bad burns on my left hand and my trainer had come off.

“Then I saw him lying there. I didn’t know what to do. I panicked for a bit and then called an ambulance.”

The jury and Mr Fowkes’ family, who attended the inquest, were told the frantic friend was on the phone to paramedics for 45 minutes while they talked him through giving Paul CPR.

But it was too late for the 20-year-old, who was pronounced dead at the scene just after 3am.

Gary Mathias, coroner’s liaison officer for British Transport Police, explained: “The cable must have come into contact with the overhead line which was live.

“The copper cable carries no charge.”

He also said cases of stealing copper wire were common.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.