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Men found not guilty of ELO musician's death

By This is Devon  |  Posted: November 19, 2012

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards

Two men charged over the death of a former member of ELO killed by a bale of hay were today found not guilty.

Brian Burden, aged 48, and Russell Williams, aged 23, were accused of failing to secure the massive bale which smashed into Michael Edwards' van.

Michael, aged 62, a cellist with 70s pop group Electric Light Orchestra, died when the 63st hay hit his car on September 3, 2010.

He was driving home when the large round bale rolled out of a field and jumped over a fence landing on his roof - killing him instantly.

Burden, a farmer, and Williams, an agricultural contractor, were accused of recklessly leaving the bale against a fence which collapsed allowing it to roll downhill.

They had both denied two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act, of failing to ensure people were not exposed to risk and failing to carry out a risk assessment.

The pair were found not guilty today following a trial at Plymouth Crown Court.

Speaking after the case, Mr Burden said: "First of all I would like to thank the jury for their consideration and my family and our friends who have given me their love and support during this difficult time.

"I would also like to thank my legal team from Kitsons and I know of course that the family and friends of Mr Michael Edwards are still grieving at his passing.

"Due to ongoing legal matters however I am unable to comment any further."

Michael played cello in the Electric Light Orchestra and had a string of hits in the 1970s and 80s.

But he died when the half tonne hay bale crashed into his water bottle delivery van on the A381 between Harbertonford and Halwell, Devon,

He suffered severe head injuries including deep lacerations to his face, haemorrhaging to the brain and a fractured jaw.

Mike was known for unconventional cello playing - including plucking the strings with an orange or grapefruit.

He was renowned for his live 'party piece' - named the Dying Swan - during which he would perform a solo with his cello 'exploding' at the end.

The musician quit the band to become a Buddhist, changing his name to Deva Pramada and make his living by teaching the cello.

He played cello with the seven-piece ELO alongside Jeff Lynne from their first live gig in 1972 until he left in January 1975.

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