Jury told to rule out suicide and neglect in care home ‘fireball’ inquest

Nottingham Council House
Nottingham Council House

An inquest jury has been directed to rule out either suicide or neglect as it begins its deliberations into the death of a mentally ill woman who was engulfed in flames at a Mansfield Woodhouse care home.

Assistant coroner Jane Gillespie made the direction to the ten-strong jury this morning (7th August) because there was not enough evidence to support either conclusion.

Patricia Bryan had been a resident at the privately-owned Thistle Hill Hall home on Debdale Lane, when the incident happened on 9th March.

Ms Bryan’s brother Edwin Bryan did not hold the care home responsible for the death of the 58-year-old, but her daughter Tracy Stone did, Ms Gillespie added.

But jury members were told it was not their job to apportion blame, and only to conclude how Ms Bryan, who suffered from schizophrenia, died.

Yesterday, Chad reported how Ms Bryan walked through the home, where she had been a resident since 2007, setting fire to carpets as molten fabric dropped from her clothing,

Staff were alerted by the screams of another resident, but care workers said Ms Bryan did not make a sound as she was engulfed in the fireball.

Instead she ‘walked purposefully’ towards an outside smoking area, where staff caught up with her and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, the inquest at Nottingham Council House was told.

After the blaze, in which she received 68 per cent burns, she continued to walk around and then sat down outside and ‘rocked gently and mumbled to herself’, the inquest heard.

She died from her injuries seven hours later after being flown by air ambulance for specialist care at a hospital in Birmingham.

The tragedy triggered a multi-agency investigation involving the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) police, social services, and the home.

Describing the incident yesterday, former healthcare assistant Alex Robertson said: ““Pat was on fire and she was walking towards the rear exit. The carpets were also on fire and I reached Pat just as she got to the bottom of the steps and I discharged the fire extinguisher at her.

“She had stopped walking and was just stood facing me.”

It is expected that the jury will reach its conclusions later today.