A COMPANY director died in a ‘tragic accident’ involving a wood-cutting machine, an inquest heard.

Jacob Thomas Wilkinson, from Appleby, was co-director of WPS Supplies Ltd in Kirkby Stephen – a business specialising in supplying firewood, coal and logs, which he had run with his brother for a decade.

Cockermouth Coroners Court heard Jacob, who liked to be known as ‘Jake’, was using a Hakki Pilke firewood processing machine used to cut logs on the morning of November 24 last year.

At around 10.20 am, the 39-year-old had used an axe shaft to keep the levers in place so that the rollers would continue to operate whilst he went to check on a problem he had encountered with the machine.

It was suggested to the court that Mr Wilkinson had most likely gone to push a log into the machine when his jacket became caught on the roller.

He was first discovered by Louise Cooper, a receptionist who found it strange that she could not hear the processing machine running, the court heard.

She immediately called for help but despite the best efforts of other on-site staff using CPR and a defibrillator, he was unable to be resuscitated and was later pronounced dead by paramedics at 11:13 am.

Megan Bousfield paid tribute to her brother.

She said: “Jake was kind to everyone. He was the life and soul of the party and had a wicked sense of humour.

“He worked so hard and his success is all down to his drive and determination. We could not be more proud of the genuinely lovely, funny hard-working man that we got to call ours.

“He has left a massive hole in many hearts. Life will never be the same without him.”

The court heard the machine was in full working order, had no identifiable faults or problems and should have been operated by one person only.

A toxicology report showed that there were no drugs or alcohol in his system, and police concluded that there were no suspicious circumstances or any third-party involvement relating to his death.

Recording the cause of death as asphyxia due to neck compression caused by clothes trapped by heavy machinery, coroner Kirsty Gomersal said: “In my judgement the most appropriate conclusion is that Jake’s death was due to a tragic accident.

“It is clear to many how important Jake was to many people.

“He was hard-working, dedicated and kind. His family have been torn about but I have no doubt their love will continue forever.”