AN INQUEST into the death of a 34-year-old man who died in a fire heard it described as ‘a tragic accident’.
Mark Andrew McGowan died in his flat in Mill Park Gardens, Mildenhall, at about 4am on October 8 last year.
At an inquest in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday, Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Mr McGowan was found face down in the hall of his flat by firefighters after the blaze had started in his kitchen.
A report from Det Insp Karl Smith, from Suffolk Police, said that Mr McGowan had been drinking on the night of his death.
A toxicology report from Dr Susan Paterson also found cocaine in Mr McGowan’s body.
Crime scene investigators found that the hob, grill and oven were all switched on and that food was found in the grill.
As the blaze engulfed the flat, carbon monoxide filled the room.
The alarm was raised by Mr McGowan’s upstairs neighbours but he was dead by the time fire crews arrived – attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful.
Dr Dean said the cocktail of drugs and alcohol may have combined with the smoke from the fire to disorientate Mr McGowan as he tried to flee the flat.
He said: “From all the evidence we have it seems that this is a particularly tragic accident.
“The emphasis here is on the risk of cooking when there is a raised alcohol level in the body.”
Soot marks found on his knees suggested that he had tried to crawl to safety.
The inquest heard that a post-mortem examination found high levels of alcohol in Mr McGowan’s blood system – 176 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
There was also evidence of a significant recreational use of cocaine.
The cause of death was confirmed as asphyxia caused by smoke.
Dr Dean concluded by saying: “Our thoughts are with the family on their loss in these very sad circumstances.”
At the time of his death, Mr McGowan was described as a ‘popular’ man by those who knew him.
Claire Dosoruth, landlady at the White Hart Hotel, in Mildenhall, where Mr McGowan was a regular customer, said: “He was like a family to a lot of us.
“He was a great laugh and would always cheer everybody up.”
He worked at Marshall Vehicle Engineering on Mildenhall Industrial Estate as part of a team which carried out phosphate plating work for military vehicles.