THE body of a builder who died falling off a ladder after drinking vodka while at work was dumped in woodland in Beaconsfield by alarmed colleagues, an inquest heard.
Ryszard Karpuc was killed when he slipped off the ladder and onto his back while working on a building site in Cox Green Lane, Maidenhead, on January 28 last year.
In a bid to keep warm he and three co-workers had consumed up to five bottles of vodka between them while working on the first floor of the building before the fatal accident, Beaconsfield Coroner's Court heard.
But, worried they would get into trouble for drinking while at work, Mr Karpuc's colleagues bundled his lifeless body into the back of a van and dumped it in woodland off Green Common Lane in Beaconsfield, jurors were told.
The inquest heard Mr Karpuc's colleagues could not feel a pulse after his fall and concluded he was already dead.
The body of the 44-year-old Polish national, of Seaford Road, West Ealing, was discovered four days later by members of Lord Burnham's shooting party, who were beating a path through the trees.
His sister Eva told the inquest: "I would expect such behaviour of strangers. I have no doubt my brother worked with these guys on different sites. They helped when he first came to the UK to sort out documents. He knew them for years."
DS Paul Quinton of the Thames Valley Police major crime team, which investigated the death, said it had been claimed Mr Karpuc's colleagues didn't speak good enough English to call for an ambulance, but Eva replied: "It was good enough English to buy alcohol."
Health and Safety inspector Karen Morris inspected the site on February 1 after Mr Karpuc's death came to light. She said risks of potential falls from the outside scaffolding platform and the incomplete stairwell inside the house were discovered and interior ladders had not been properly secured, but none of these contributed to the builder's death.
Mrs Morris added: “Ryszard Karpuc’s colleagues appeared to panic and thought it best to move his body.”
Coroner Richard Hulett said to Mrs Morris: “It seems they wanted to cover up the fact they had been drinking on the job.” Mrs Morris replied: “That’s what we understand from the statements given to the police.”
A post mortem revealed he had died from a haemorrhage on the lungs caused by broken ribs. It also showed he was more than three and a half times over the legal drink-drive limit.
The jury returned a verdict of accidental death caused by a fall from a ladder post consumption of excessive alcohol.
Coroner Richard Hulett told jurors there was nothing to suggest the actions of Mr Karpuc's colleagues had led directly to his death, but they were facing other criminal charges relating to their conduct in disposing of his body.