Council will not face charges over death in nature reserve

Lukasz Costazza was killed eight years ago by a falling tree in the council-owned Low Hall Nature Reserve

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

The Low Hall Nature Reserve (credit: Google Streetview)

Waltham Forest Council will not face criminal charges after a man was killed by a falling tree in a council-owned nature reserve eight years ago.

In June 2015, 30-year-old Lukasz Costazza died in the Low Hall Nature Reserve, sparking a years-long joint investigation by the Metropolitan Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

While police involvement ended in 2019, the HSE took a further three years to decide it would not bring any charges against the council regarding its legal responsibility to manage the trees.

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This has caused unusually long delays to Lukasz’s inquest, which by law must now be held within six months or “as soon as reasonably practicable”.

Last July, HSE investigator Charles Linfoot told a coroner’s court the pandemic and personal health issues had “delayed matters”.

At a pre-inquest hearing today (17th January), assistant coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said a jury inquest is likely to be held this May.

She added: “This inquest is such an old one, the death was in 2015, I really want to try and get it heard.”

The inquest will hear evidence from Waltham Forest Council, which owns the nature reserve, and tree contractor Gristwood and Toms.

Lukasz’s family and HSE have also been listed as “interested persons”, giving them the right to participate in the inquest.

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