Dad accidentally set fire to himself

A DEPRESSED father-of-two died after pouring white spirit over his clothes and accidentally setting fire to himself at his Tibshelf home, an inquest was told.

Simon Clark (44), of Babbington Street, died at Chesterfield Royal Hospital after suffering burns to 65 per cent of his body.

Barbara Clark, his wife for the past 19 years, told a Chesterfield inquest on Monday their marriage had been a bit of a 'roller-coaster ride' since Mr Clark's father's death and he had threatened to harm himself in the past.

A month before his death he told a GP he was going through a tense time in his marriage and was prescribed anti-depressants.

After an argument with his wife on 14th March, Mr Clark, a former dispensing optician, poured white spirit over his shirt and held a lighter.

He did not ignite the shirt, but after the incident had 'settled down' his wife saw some flames coming from a towel he was holding and realised his clothing had caught fire.

She covered him with coats in a bid to smother the flames and poured water over him. When police arrived the sprayed him using a fire extinguisher, before he was taken by air ambulance to hospital.

Fire investigation officer Mark Bailey said a cigarette lighter was the most probable cause of the fire.

Mrs Clark told the inquest: "I'm sure it was an accident. He wanted me to put the flames out. He had been playing with the lighter or lighting a cigarette."

Deputy North Derbyshire coroner Nigel Anderson recorded a verdict of accidental death.

"Over a period of years he had made threats of self-harm or suicide but there were no real attempts to carry them out," said Mr Anderson.

He believed Mr Clark poured white spirit over himself and his clothes suddenly caught fire as he either prepared to light a cigarette or played with the lighter.