Excompany director lay dead at £2m home for two days after tractor

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. House in Hernhill, Kent This is a tragic story about a man doing what many men do on the weekend – cutting the grassCoroner Christine Freeman The tragedy unfolded in the village of Hernhill, KentMr Gradus had two children, Natasha and Jack, and a granddaughter Amelia.He was the founder of Systems Technology. His ex-wife Zana Gradus is the current managing director and owner of the firm – which is owned by Tallgrand Ltd and has an annual turnover of around £9m – which Mr Gradus set up in 1989.Writing on Facebook on the day Mr Gradus was found dead, his son Jack wrote: “I don’t think words can ever describe our feelings right now. Every day was lived as if it was your last, we’ll all miss you dad, and we’ll love you always xx.”His daughter Natasha Hildyard wrote on Facebook on May 16: “No words could ever describe how awesome he was! Even though he’d hate being on any sort of social media. We will miss you always xxxxxx.” Spencer Gradus was expecting potential buyers to look round the large property in Hernhill, KentCredit:STIAN ALEXANDER His ex-wife, Zana Gradus, told the inquest: “I was with him from about 10am until 2.30pm on the Saturday (May 14) as we had somebody coming round the next morning to view the house. He was on really good form.”He loved cutting the grass. We had a full-time gardener, but he liked to spend a lot of time on the mower.”He didn’t like the gardener doing the lawnmowing. I didn’t realise he was going to cut the grass that day, but he was going to tidy the garden before the people came round to look at it.”I texted him later that day to say it was so nice to see him so happy and healthy. The potential buyers arrived at 10am on Sunday and could not get an answer.”Emergency services were called to the scene on the morning of May 16 and Mr Gradus’ body was found at the bottom of the bank, pinned underneath the tractor. Spencer Gradus is believed to have lost control of the tractor and mowing attachment after accidentally reversing over the side of a steep bank in the grounds of his homeCredit:STIAN ALEXANDER A retired  businessman lay dead in the grounds of his £2million Victorian house for two days after his tractor toppled over and crushed him as his mowed the lawn.Spencer Gradus, who stepped down as director of IT firm Systems Technology last year, had just returned from living in Spain as he and his ex-wife Zana prepared to sell their eight-bedroom home in the village of Hernhill, Kent.The 52-year-old had gone out on Saturday, May 14 this year to mow the lawn of the four-acre gardens – which includes an orchard, tennis court and outdoor swimming pool – when the tractor fell on top of him.An inquest into the father of two’s death heard how Mr Gradus and his ex-wife were expecting potential buyers to come on Sunday, May 15 to look round the large property. Detective Sergeant Andrew Lambert told the inquest that the tractor is likely to have “slipped off the bank” as Mr Gradus reversed, causing him to fall out of the vehicle – which then fell on top of him.Pathologist Salim Anjarwalla said Mr Gradus had suffered a heart attack and positional asphyxia.Coroner Christine Freeman said: “This is a tragic story about a man doing what many men do on the weekend – cutting the grass. We may never know the exact sequence of events.”The evidence identifies two significant potential causes of death and it is quite probable he had some sort of cardiac event, but at the same time, if one is in a position where one has a tractor on their chest, asphyxia is a very likely cause of death.”Given the circumstances and the contributory factors, I am going to conclude that this was a tragic accident.” But, as he mowed the lawn with the tractor and mowing attachment, he is believed to have lost control after accidentally reversing it over the side of a steep bank.The inquest at Folkestone Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Gradus is believed to have fallen out of the tractor, which then fell on top of him and killed him.The alarm was not raised until Monday, May 16, despite potential buyers turning up on May 15 and not getting an answer at the door.His body was not found until May 16, when colleague Robert Field spotted the tractor was missing from the garage and then saw the tip of the machine poking up from the steep bank.Mr Field told the inquest: “I called for him but there was no answer, but then I saw the garage door was open and the tractor was not in there.”That’s when I went to look around the grounds. I could see the tip of the tractor poking out and, as I got nearer, I could see the tractor was on its side and was down a bank.” Spencer Gradus homelast_img read more