The devastated family of a worker killed at his Christchurch depot two years ago are demanding answers into how he died.

Jason Newton, 36, died when a heavy truck ramp fell and struck his head at Forklifts NZ in Hornby on February 12, 2016.

Both police and WorkSafe NZ concluded that nobody should be held liable for his death.

But his widow Paula and his family believe they have been let down by both WorkSafe and the company.


This morning at a coronial inquest into Newton's death, the family placed large placards around the Christchurch courtroom.

While showing photographs of the "proud father" with his son, they also slam Worksafe.

"WorkSafe where are you? It is about the truth not the system", one reads, while another says, "Jason Newton RIP WorkSafe NZ Fine the company and the worker for not keeping a safe work place. Pay my family for my death".

Paula Newton placed a framed photograph of Newton in front of her at the inquest, which is also being attended by other friends and family.

Newton had been working to fix the tailgate ramp hydraulics of a vehicle recovery transporter when the tragedy happened.

Police said Newton and co-workers had lifted the ramp at the rear of the truck and secured it with three blue tie down straps to the main truck deck.

While Newton was working on the hydraulic ram, a "miscommunication" led to a co-worker opening one of three strop's ratchets, police said, causing the heavy steel ramp to fall on Newton.

Colleagues used a forklift to try to get the ramp off him and try to save his life.


St John paramedics rushed to the scene but despite efforts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

WorkSafe was notified and an investigation launched alongside the police inquiries.

Coroner Marcus Elliott today offered his condolences to the Newton family and hoped the inquest could help answer some of their questions about what happened.

He stressed that the inquisitorial nature of the coroner was to investigate the cause and circumstances of the death, not to consider issues of criminal or civil liability.

Paula Newton raised concerns with the case after her husband's death but a review by a senior Christchurch detective again concluded that nobody should be charged.

The inquest continues.