Man, 80, died in fire he started deliberately

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A retired electrician from Stanton died in a fire he deliberately started, an inquest has heard.

Donald Andrews, 80, died on June 10 in a fire at Shepherds Grove Retirement Park on Drovers Rise.

At an inquest into his death yesterday, Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean said Mr Andrews had used petrol, kindling and paper scraps to start and spread the fire, but was unable to explain why he did it.

He said Mr Andrews, a father of two, had ‘undue’ concerns about electricity boxes that had been installed near his mobile home and had written various letters of complaint about the issue.

In a statement read at the inquest, his widow Jill had said she was shocked at what her husband had done, although he had talked about committing suicide before.

Mr Andrews had also recently battled bowel cancer and suffered a stroke.

Dr Dean said he was unable to say whether Mr Andrews had wanted to take his own life or that he had lit the fire ‘to prove a point about the electrics’.

He said: “There is a possibility with the difficulties in his life, with the difficulties with his illness and an undue focus on electric issues he was trying to do something else in starting the fire.

“Was he trying to create an electrical fire to prove a point?
“There are different ways of interpreting the scenario here and I cannot be absolutely sure that his intention was suicide beyond reasonable doubt.”

Dr Dean read out a report by Fire Investigator John Hubble which showed petrol had been poured around the home.

“The fire appears to have started in the front of the home and spread to the rear,” he said.

“There was widespread distribution of a flammable liquid, such as petrol or alcohol, on to the materials involved.

“Matches were found in various places around the deceased.

“There was no evidence found for an accidental cause of fire.

“The fire was most probably set by the occupant.”

A butane gas bottle was also found in the lounge of the property.

Dr Dean gave a narrative verdict saying that the cause of death were the consequences of a fire which Mr Andrews had initiated deliberately.

“Without knowing his state of mind at the time we cannot know for sure why he did it,” Dr Dean said.

“Our thoughts and condolences are very much with his family and those close to him in these very difficult circumstances.”