A stowaway who fell to his death from a Heathrow-bound plane was discovered after office workers complained about a fault with the air conditioning, an inquest heard
Carlito Vale's body was found on the roof of a Richmond office block on June 18 last year, where the father from Mozambique had crashed into an aluminium vent, an inquest heard on Thursday (April 28).
He had hidden in the undercarriage of a British Airways plane from Johannesburg, and is believed to have fallen when the aircraft opened its landing gear as it approached Heathrow.
Another man who stowed away on the same flight remarkably survived the 8,000-mile journey and was found unconscious after the aircraft touched down that morning.
An inquest into Mr Vale's death, held at West London Coroner's Court, heard evidence from the employee who found his body on the roof of online retailer Notonthehighstreet.com's offices in Kew Road, Richmond.
'I thought I really hope that's not a body'
Michael Bentley was working as facilities operations manager at the premises when he made the grisly discovery at about 9.30am that morning.
In a statement read out by coroner Kally Cheema, he told how he had gone up to the roof of the four-storey building to investigate after workers complained about the offices being stuffy.
"I stopped as I could see matter on the floor. I moved closer and saw what I could only describe as a human bone," he said.
"I looked up and saw extensive damage to the aluminium cover of the air conditioning unit. At this point I thought I really hope that's not a body. It could only have come from a plane.
"I looked inside and saw a foot and then a leg and then saw it was a human inside the unit.
"As the body appeared to be so crumpled and given the amount of matter and bones scattered nearby, and the damage inflicted on nearby housing, it appeared to me there was no prospect of survival."
Mr Bentley added that Mr Vale appeared to be wearing Converse-style trainers and light blue/grey trousers.
He immediately contacted his line manager, before alerting police.
'I could see two human legs facing up into the air'
PSCO Moonesawmy, who was the first member of the police on the scene, told in a statement read out at the inquest how she had seen "lots of red debris, which appeared to be blood or body parts".
"I looked into the box (the ventilation unit) and I could see two human legs facing up into the air," she added.
Inspector Steve Lemon, who arrived later, said: "The force of the impact was so great that the body had completely smashed through the metal panels covering the air conditioner internals. It was so great it decapitated the corpse and body parts landed on other parts of the roof."
He told in his statement how a bag had been found at Johannesburg Airport with a Mozambique passport and an outdated US visa belonging to Mr Vale and giving his date of birth as 1986.
He said the surviving stowaway confirmed this was the man with whom he had climbed onto the undercarriage of the plane, but said he had only met him a few days before.
DNA matched with that of his daughter
Inspector Lemon said DNA taken from Mr Vale's body was then matched with that from a shirt in the bag found at the airport, and with DNA from his daughter to confirm the identity of the deceased.
A post-mortem gave the cause of death as multiple injuries.
Ms Cheema recorded a conclusion of accidental death.
The Guardian revealed in January how an orphanage in Beira, Mozambique, had identified Mr Vale as the stowaway who fell to his death.
It reported how Mr Vale had left the orphanage when he was about 18 and had worked as a labourer before travelling to South Africa. The founder of the orphanage described him to the paper as a "lovely young man".
Richmond Council earlier this year demanded safety reassurances following Mr Vale's death after its legal challenge against the airports regulator was rejected.
The council said he was the third person to have fallen in the borough from a plane since 2012.