Cleveleys care home death woman's bed set alight in 'dreadful act'
Published: 30th May 2012 19:29:14
A 96-year-old woman was unlawfully killed in a care home when her bed was deliberately set alight in a "dreadful act", a coroner has ruled.
Edith Stuart died in hospital after the blaze at Cleveleys Park Rest Home in Lancashire, on 18 October 2010.
Two employees at the home, initially held on suspicion of her murder, gave evidence at the inquest into her death.
The CPS later ruled that there was insufficient evidence to charge either woman.
They were the sole members of staff on duty at the time and were looking after ten elderly residents - nine of whom were mentally or physically infirm.
The one mobile resident was upstairs in her room at the time of the blaze, while third party involvement from an intruder was ruled out by the police.
West Lancashire deputy coroner Simon Jones said that, similarly to detectives, he noticed "discrepancies" in the accounts of the two care workers as to their whereabouts before the fire alarm went off.
Giving evidence, Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour confirmed the cause of death as burns and that, in her opinion, Mrs Stuart was lying down when the fire spread to her bedclothes.
She suffered extensive burns to her back, arms, legs and buttocks.
Richard Percival, of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said a green cigarette lighter was discovered on the floor of the bedroom of Mrs Stuart, who did not smoke.
He said the blaze was consistent with spreading upwards from the cotton valance sheet of the bed and then across to the wall when it is likely Mrs Stuart would have thrown her bedding as she sat up.
The pattern of the blaze was not consistent with a dropped cigarette and the flame would have had to be held deliberately for three seconds rather than being wafted around, he said.
Recording a verdict at Fleetwood Magistrates' Court of unlawful killing, Mr Jones said: "I am entirely satisfied the fire was started deliberately by a person or persons who the police were unable to identify.
"It is hard to conceive a more dreadful act than for someone to deliberately set fire to a bed in which an elderly and frail, and relatively immobile, lady, is lying in the knowledge that the lady has limited possibility of escaping the fire once it has started and in doing so to bring about her death."
He said he shared the "regret" of the police that they have been unable to identify who was the killer and bring them to justice.
"I offer my condolences to the family," he continued. "I recognise the fact this inquest has now concluded and the family are left with the one question - who is responsible for Mrs Stuart's death?
"I take some comfort in that this is not a closed case, it will be never a closed case and if any new evidence comes to light it will be considered."
A retired textile weaver, formerly from Burnley, Lancashire, Mrs Stuart had been living at the home in Stockdove Way for four years.
She died in Blackpool Victoria Hospital the day after the fire.
Lancashire Police said the case remains an ongoing murder inquiry.
In a statement they said: "Lancashire Constabulary has a policy of never closing cases and we would appeal for anyone who has any information to come forward, even at this late stage, and report it to the police so that we can give Mrs Stuart's family the answers they desperately need."
At 02:38:19 in BusinessFour of the biggest technology firms - Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe - have settled a class action lawsuit alleging they conspired to hold down salaries.
At 02:35:23 in EnglandTwo hundred staff are to be recruited at the police watchdog's new offices in Birmingham to allow it to take on extra investigations.
At 02:29:38 in PoliticsAlmost two-thirds of the UK's members of Parliament are "local" to the area they represent, research by a political think tank suggests.
At 02:27:43 in PoliticsForeign prisoners are not being deported quickly enough to help cut costs and relieve overcrowding, a group of MPs has warned.
At 01:49:24 in WorldFrom the moment it was founded in 2007, the Pakistani Taliban have proved to be a formidable force.
At 01:35:45 in HealthA new online map of England and Wales allows people to enter their postcode and find their community's risk of developing 14 conditions, such as heart disease and lung cancer.
At 01:20:23 in EnglandThe mother of a teenager who was killed in Syria has paid tribute to "a naive, brave boy".
At 01:15:41 in HeadlinesInfo
At 01:13:43 in EnglandA £7m boost to support Bristol as European Green Capital 2015 has been announced by the government.
At 01:13:38 in HeadlinesAs the royal tour draws to a close, there's no doubt Prince George stole the limelight. But what has the young family's visit revealed about Australia and New Zealand's attitudes to the monarchy?
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Cleveleys care home death woman's bed set alight in 'dreadful act' [Online] (Updated 30th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1431864/Cleveleys-care-home-death-womans-bed-set-alight-in-dreadful-act [Accessed 25th Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
A village museum in East Sussex will go up against Tate Britain and the new £35m Mary Rose Museum in a contest to be named the UK's museum of the year.
This year is an important one for the Lamont household.
Ten candidates will be vying for three European parliament seats in Northern Ireland, it has been confirmed.
A 15 year-old girl has been cut free after becoming trapped in a children's swing in a park in Denbighshire.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
Almost two-thirds of the UK's members of Parliament are "local" to the area they represent, research by a political think tank suggests.