Man praised for honoring his wife’s dying wish

The inquest found that the fire had been caused by an electronic blanket
The inquest found that the fire had been caused by an electronic blanket

A man who looked after his troubled brother-in-law for six years as a favour to his late wife was praised by a coroner last week.

David John Burton died in a fire on Wednesday, April 27 at his Littlehamton address, where he lived alone.

An inquest into his death was held at Centenary House in Worthing last Thursday.

Mr Burton died aged 77 in his second-floor flat in Maltravers Road, the coroners officer reported.

The inquest heard a statement from Mr Burton’s brother-in-law, Peter Edwards, who discovered the fire when had gone to check on him.

The fire service were called at 9am but Mr Burton was declared dead at the scene, according a spokesperson for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

Emma Wilson from the fire service confirmed an electric blanket that had not been adequately cared for had been set to reheat at the time of the fire.

Fuses were intact in all smoke alarms in the flat and the alarms had sounded, she said.

Mr Burton had struggled with alcohol addiction as well as the effects of dementia caused by a brain injury sustained in his 30s, assistant coroner Dr Karen Henderson said in her conclusion.

He had been born and raised in Littlehampton

“This is clearly someone who was in a very difficult position,” said Dr Karen Henderson.

“Mr Edwards felt that Mr Burton lived in a vacuum of alcohol and confusion”, she added.

The post-mortem examination confirmed Mr Burton died from smoke inhalation and no other drugs were found in his toxicology results.

Dr Henderson said she was more than satisfied Mr Edwards did as much as he could ‘to protect Mr Burton from his lifestyle choices.’

The coroner thanked Mr Edwards, who was present for the inquest, for his efforts to care for him.

She also confirmed the fire service’s view that the source of the fire came from the electric blanket as well as the findings of histopathologist Dr Mark Whittaker who conducted the post-mortem examination.

Dr Henderson returned a conclusion of accidental death for Mr Burton.

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