Killed by his iPhone charger


A coroner is to warn Apple that iPhone chargers can be potentially lethal after a man was electrocuted in the bath.

Richard Bull, 32, was charging his phone next to the tub when it accidentally fell into the water.

He was found by his wife Tanya, who thought her husband had been attacked because his burns were so severe.

She made a distraught call to the police, who found that Mr Bull had used an extension lead from the hallway of his Ealing home so he could use the phone in the bath.

He was getting ready to go out meet family members to exchange Christmas presents when the tragedy happened on December 11.

Coroner Dr Sean Cummings said: ‘This was a tragic accident and I have no reason to believe at all that there anything other than it being completely accidental.

‘These seem like innocuous devices, but they can be as dangerous as a hairdryer in a bathroom. They should attach warnings

‘I intend to write a report later to the makers of the phone.’

Richard’s mother Carole said: ‘I have worried that so many people and especially teenagers, that can’t be separated from their phones, don’t know how dangerous it is.’

His brother Andrew said: ‘When you are younger you are taught about electricity and the bath, but you don’t think about this.

‘I still find it hard to believe that between the charger plug and the phone would be enough electricity to kill someone.’

A keen rugby player, Richard captained amateur side Old Actonians RFC as well as playing for Ealing Exiles.

PC Craig Pattison told the inquest at West London Coroner’s Court how he found the extension lead running from the hallway outside into the bathroom.’

‘We found an iPhone plugged into the extension cable and then the charger element in the bath,’ he explained

PC Pattison said he ruled out suicide when he arrived at the scene.

‘We received a dispatch call from control saying they were contacted by his wife. She was upset, having returned home.

‘She said her husband was dead inside a bath tub.

‘There was some confusion about an electric cable in the bathroom. There was the possibility of it being suicide.

‘When we arrived the ambulance service was there. They told me they had unplugged an extension cord, but that they could do nothing further as he had already passed away.

‘The extension cord was coming from the hallway leading into the bathroom.

‘Initial circumstances indicated suicide. The question was considered in the original call, but the cable wasn’t near the bath, it had been run there to charge a mobile phone.

‘The extension cable was on the floor and it appeared as though he had his phone charger on his chest and the part between the phone charger and the cable had made contact with the water.’

Coroner Dr Sean Cummings described the result of the electrocution saying: ‘The post mortem revealed burn marks on the right arm and the chest occurring as a result of electrocution. There were also burns on the right hand.

‘The opinion of the pathologist was that this seems to be an accident.’

Richard’s family described how they had planned to see him that day.

His father Anthony Watson told the inquest: ‘We were meeting him that morning, to exchange presents and were going for a curry, which he loved.

‘And the next day he was going to stay with his brother.’

His mother added: ‘He was in a happy disposition.’

His brother Andrew said he was amazed such a small device can be fatal.

He said: ‘We can all be careless at times, when you’re younger you’re taught about electricity and the bath but you don’t think about it.

‘I live in the US and they say it can’t happen, and that there is not enough electricity.

‘But in the UK it is enough. You don’t think there is enough electricity but there is.

‘We think he may have been there for a long time, he was getting ready to meet his family.

‘It was such a needless and tragic accident.’

A match was held in Mr Bull’s memory in January by the club, while his teammate Nick Greenhalgh paid tribute to his friend.

He said: ‘He was a pleasure to play both against and with. He would play in any position without giving it a second thought.

‘He stepped back from nothing and left everything on the pitch for whichever side he was playing for.

‘He will be greatly missed, deepest commiserations to those he has left behind.’