James Scott-Lee, the founder of Chancellors and one of the most influential figures in the estate agency sector, died of a stroke after being run over by his horses and carriage, an inquest has been told.
Scott-Lee, who had headed up Chancellors Group since the 1990s, was a very keen horse and carriage enthusiast.
Aged 66, he had been on a “tremendous” seven-mile ride with his groom, Kevin Merry, and Merry’s wife Beverley.
After returning to Scott-Lee’s stables at his estate in Kirtlington, Oxfordshire, the two horses pulling the carriage were startled and kicked him to the ground and trampled him. He was then crushed by all four wheels of the carriage.
Scott-Lee complained that he could not feel his legs. He was taken by ambulance to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where scans revealed multiple fractured ribs, but doctors said his condition was not life-threatening.
By the afternoon, his condition had deteriorated and further scans showed he had a broken vertebra. Doctors later found he had suffered a stroke.
Scott-Lee was taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, where his wife, Jill, and his son learnt that he had suffered extensive brain damage. He died the next day, on 28 October last year.
Merry and his nurse wife told the inquest: “James got off the back and walked to one side to stand in front of one horse and Beverley stood on the other side, to create a wall for the horses to stop them moving any further.
“Kevin got off the carriage and detached the horses from the rear and walked around to the front. As he was doing this, James’ horse started to fidget and then reared up. James pulled it back down using the reins. This unsettled my [Beverley’s] horse and I sensed the situation was starting to escalate and there was a risk the horses would bolt.
“I told James to get out of the way but he didn’t move. The horses lunged forward, knocking James to the ground. He was lying on his side in front of both horses, at which point they walked over him still attached to the carriage and drove over James’s body.”
Recording a conclusion of accidental death, Darren Salter, the coroner, noted that doctors had not at first known Scott-Lee had suffered a broken vertebra. “It is not known if it occurred at the time of the incident or developed later,” he added.
Chancellors is one of the country’s leading independent estate agents with over 50 networked offices in Southern England and Wales. The group also comprises the specialist mortgage and insurance advisers, Life FS.
Chancellors has a strong local presence in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Herefordshire, London, Mid Wales, Oxfordshire and Surrey.
Scott-Lee steered Chancellors through a period of significant expansion, and at the time of his death was a director of three other estate agents controlled by Chancellors: Anscombe and Ringland, Bonsor Pennington and Russell, as well as Baldwin & Bright.
His son, Robert Scott-Lee, is managing director of Chancellors Group.
DealMakerz’ heart goes out to Scott-Lee’s family and his Chancellors group colleagues. He will be sorely missed by everyone in the industry.