Somercotes woman died after cigarette set fire to her mattress

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A WOMAN died in a house blaze at her Somercotes home after a cigarette set fire to her mattress, an inquest was told on Monday.

Suzanne Charlton (26) had been released from Sutton’s King’s Mill Hospital following a five-week admission for pneumonia.

Her husband Michael Charlton (34) told police she had been ‘pretty much bed-ridden’ following discharge from hospital and he was her main carer.

But, at lunchtime on 11th April, he had to leave her to collect payment for gardening work he had done for Somercotes firm Amber Precast.

He left her something to eat and drink, and she had some rolled-up cigarettes.

Mr Charlton was at the home of a friend, Martin Plunkett, with a view to buying a puppy for his wife when he received a message about the fire.

The Chesterfield inquest was told that he ran home and fire-fighters were dealing with the upstairs blaze.

He said to a police officer: “Is she okay? Tell me she’s okay”.

The alarm had been raised by the son of neighbour Anne Ball, who had seen smoke ‘puthering’ from a front bedroom window.

She ran across and opened the back door and saw smoke at the top of the stairs. She added: “I joined the crowd at the front. We saw the flames and the window smashed and dropped to the floor.

“The flames then went up to the guttering and the roof. Then Michael came running down the street.”

Fire investigator Chris Smith said the upstairs was well alight when firefighters arrived and found the severely charred body of Mrs Charlton on a double bed.

He said the evidence indicated a smouldering fire had developed at the head end of the bed with smoking materials the most likely cause.

Home Office pathologist Prof Guy Rutty believed Mrs Charlton was alive when the fire started but she soon lost consciousness as the blaze spread and “succumbed to it very quickly”.

He said she died from inhalation of smoke and products of combustion and the extensive burning to her body largely took place following death.

North Derbyshire Coroner Dr Robert Hunter recorded a verdict of accidental death on Mrs Charlton, of Queen Street, Somercotes.

* Mrs Charlton moved to Derbyshire from Scotland after being released from a two year jail term imposed for causing harm to her baby daughter.

Glasgow High Court had been told that she was diagnosed with the rare Munchausen’s Syndrome, which caused people to draw attention to themselves by faking illnesses in children.

Then aged 23 and known as Suzanne McDaid, she told doctors her daughter had been vomiting blood. The baby had six operations under general anaesthetic, all of which failed to find anything wrong, and at one point the child suffered blood poisoning.