Tragic death of fireball mother

The Coroners Court, Basil Close, Chesterfield.
The Coroners Court, Basil Close, Chesterfield.

A depressed mum-of-two doused herself in turps and set herself alight - after discovering her husband had been unfaithful, an inquest heard.

Dianne Staniforth, 51, of Brimington Road, Chesterfield, found out her husband Paul had had a one night stand after seeing a text on his phone.

The mum, who suffered from depression, covered herself in half a litre of white spirits and set herself on fire while her husband, 15-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son were upstairs in bed.

During the hearing, last Thursday, at Chesterfield coroner’s court, Mr Staniforth said: “I heard a scream like I’d never heard before. I jumped out of bed and heard the screaming again.

“I met Dianne coming up the stairs. She was on fire, the hottest, brightest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Mr Staniforth pushed his wife, who he said was like a “fireball,” in to the bathroom and began running cold water over her body while the couple’s daughter dialled 999.

Mrs Staniforth, who worked as a civil servant at DWP, was rushed to Sheffield Hospital and then to a burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield.

Her husband suffered serious burns to his hands.

In a statement read out in court, PC Michelle Witham said: “On arrival at hospital Mrs Staniforth was taken for resuscitation.

“Later she beckoned me over and asked ‘where are my kids?’. I told her they were okay and not to worry.

“I asked her if she remembered what happened. She said, ‘I did this to myself. I found out my husband was having an affair and wanted to teach him a lesson. I set fire to myself.”

Mrs Staniforth died six days after the incident on Sunday, April 28 2013.

She suffered third degree burns to 70 per cent of her body.

The court heard how Mrs Staniforth had taken an overdose in October 2012 and a few months before her death had poured petrol over her head.

Mr Staniforth said in the six months before her death his wife had threatened to kill herself between 30 and 40 times.

He added: “I’d remove tablets and wine and lock the doors to stop Dianne going out.

“If she got out she would go and get more wine or sit by the railway lines.”

Mr Staniforth, a business consultant, said he wanted to separate from his wife. He added: “Dianne didn’t want me to leave and said she would kill herself but I never thought she would do anything like this.”

Mrs Staniforth’s sister Julie Baird said on April 22, 2013 Dianne sent her a text saying: “Paul slept with someone else. I’m done now, I don’t want to live.”

Mrs Baird urged her sister to leave her husband and build a new life.

She added: “I don’t think she would have wanted to kill herself.

“She loved her children and I don’t think she would have wanted to leave them.”

Assistant coroner Paul McCandless concluded Mrs Staniforth died of misadventure.

He added: “She inflicted these burns upon herself in an effort to get back at her husband, but not in order to bring about her own death.”