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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Coroner verdict on MP's daughter
Jenny Tonge
Dr Tonge is the MP for Richmond Park
The death of a Lib Dem MP's daughter was caused by electrocution as a result of defective home improvement work, a coroner's court has found.

Mary Wherry, daughter of Richmond Park MP Jenny Tonge, died as she emptied her dishwasher at her home in west London.

The 34-year-old mother of two had not realised a metal screw supporting a utensil rack was touching a live wire. She was found by her two young sons.

The coroner's verdict was the death was "consequent on home improvement work".

Killed instantly

Mrs Wherry placed a utensil on the metal rack as her ankle was resting against the stainless steel of the dishwasher.

She was pronounced dead on 31 July in hospital although Fulham Coroner Alison Thompson said Mrs Wherry was killed instantly at her Hampton Hill home.

A two-and-a-half inch black and yellow bruise was discovered on her ankle showing where the electricity had passed.

The court heard a new kitchen was installed at the house in 1999 by unnamed builders and the wires from the extractor to the fuse box had not been installed according to best practice guidelines.

Live current

Detective Inspector Tim Dobson said the wires did not go up the wall vertically and then horizontally, as expected, but veered off at a five degree angle.

"The wire was outside the area of expectancy, at a slight angle," he said.

Two years later Mrs Wherry's husband put the utensil rack beneath the extractor hood and a screw went into the cable.

Over time the rack and cable had moved so that the screw came into contact with the live current.


Roger Vincent, a spokesman for the Royal Society of Prevention of Accidents, said: "This case re-emphasises the need to ensure that all electrical work is carried out by experts - it isn't something for DIY.

"In the kitchen, water and electricity is a fatal combination - a lot of water around makes the problem even worse."

Mrs Wherry's family including Dr Tonge were in court to hear the verdict but left without comment afterwards.

At the time of her daughter's death the MP issued a statement saying: "The whole family are completely devastated and are trying to come to terms with the loss not only of Jenny's daughter but of the mother of two young children."

Mrs Wherry had worked for Goldman Sachs for several years before starting her family.

She was active in her community and ran after-school French classes for the children of the local Carlisle Infants School.

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