‘Loving’ Chesterfield woman died in fire as a result of ‘misadventure’, coroner rules

A coroner has recorded a conclusion of misadventure after a ‘loving and caring’ woman died in a fire in Chesterfield.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 4:35 pm

Emily Walsh, 34, passed away in a flat on Seaton Court, Devonshire Close, Newbold, on the evening of September 12 last year.

Emergency services attended the premises shortly before 9pm that night and firefighters reported being met with a ‘well-developed’ blaze.

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Police at the scene of the fire last year.
Police at the scene of the fire last year.

Crews entered the flat where they found Ms Walsh lying on the lounge floor.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Thursday, Chesterfied Coroner’s Court heard Ms Walsh suffered with several illnesses and had been living in the premises with her carer, Michael White.

He told the inquest he went to a nearby shop just after 8.45pm on the night of the tragedy.

“When I left she was awake and she said she was going to listen to some music,” he added.

“I went to the shop and when I got back on the road I knew something wasn’t right.”

Eyewitnesses reported seeing flames coming from the flat and Mr White said ‘there was so much smoke’ when he tried to enter his premises.

Darren Perrott, of Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, said an investigation concluded the blaze broke out after a ‘naked flame’ came into contact with combustible materials.

Ms Walsh was believed to have started the fire in what was a ‘deliberate action’, he said.

Mr Perrott added the investigation found she had engaged the front door lock from inside the flat prior to the fire.

Family members told the inquest it was common for Ms Walsh to do this when Mr White was out.

They also described her as ‘loving and caring’.

A post-mortem examination concluded the cause of Ms Walsh’s death was ‘inhalation of products of combustion’.

The inquest heard she had a history of alcohol problems and mental and physical health issues.

Concluding proceedings, Susan Evans, assistant coroner, said: “On the balance of probabilities, I’m satisfied the fire was deliberately caused.

“Emily was alone in the flat and had engaged the front door lock from the inside.

“Therefore, it must have been Emily who started the fire.

“However, I’m not satisfied there is evidence that she intended to take her own life when she started the fire.

“I therefore conclude she died as a result of misadventure.”

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