Tributes have been paid to two farmworkers who died in a fruit packhouse on a Conservative peer’s Hampshire estate.

Scott Cain, 23, and Ashley Clarke, 24, were found unconscious at the Blackmoor Estate in Blackmoor, near Liss, owned by Lord Selborne.

Staff members and then paramedics tried to revive them but were unsuccessful.

The cause of the deaths is unknown, but it is understood the workers had entered the storage building on Monday afternoon (18 February) when they were overcome by nitrogen fumes used in the store to keep fruit cool.

However postmortem examinations have proved inconclusive, said police, who are awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

Blackmoor Estate
The Blackmoor Estate’s fruit packhouse

A joint investigation has been launched by Hampshire police and the HSE into the deaths of Mr Cain, from Liphook, and Mr Clarke, from Liss, North East Hampshire.

Coroner Andrew Bradley has opened and adjourned an inquest into the deaths.

Lord Selborne’s son William Wolmer, managing director of the 1,000ha estate, said staff were devastated.

He said: “This is absolutely devastating news for our tight-knit community and our thoughts are with their loved ones.

“The cause of this tragic incident is being investigated and Blackmoor Estate is co-operating fully with the authorities.”

Heartbroken friends paid to the two men on Twitter.

Dan Zubiena wrote: “RIP Scott Cain, what a great man, always made us laugh. You will be missed. Thoughts are with the family.”

And Gary Tarbuck tweeted: “In shock tonight. RIP Ashley Clarke. Thoughts with friends and family at this very sad time #tooyoung.”

Meanwhile, the HSE is investigating the death of a 50-year-old Scottish farmer who was killed while servicing a hay baling machine.

John Sloan died at the scene at Little Creoch Farm, near New Cumnock, Ayrshire, last Monday (13 February). He is believed to have fallen or been pulled into the baler.

More on this topic

See our dedicated farm health and safety page.