Belfast Telegraph

Man 'must testify at OAP inquest'

A member of a London-based religious order could be compelled to give evidence at the inquest of a pensioner who died after a care home fire, a coroner's court has heard.

Kathleen Fegan suffered severe burns when a blaze broke out at Owenvale Court in west Belfast in April 2012. The 81-year-old grandmother died from her injuries at the Royal Victoria Hospital days later.

At the time, the residential home, on Springfield Road, was run by the St John of God Association. After the fire, which police deemed accidental, it was de-registered and t aken over by the Care Circle group.

At a preliminary hearing it was revealed that at least 15 people will be called to give evidence during the two-day inquest scheduled for November.

However, Northern Ireland's senior coroner John Leckey said his office had not yet received a response from Brother Michael Newman.

Mr Leckey said: "He is a member of a religious order in London. A subpoena may have to be issued."

Barrister Padraig O'Muirigh, who is representing the Fegan family, said he may wish to add a number of former employees to the witness list.

He said: "A number of former employees have contacted my office in the last number of days. I may make submissions in terms of adding people.

"I would like the opportunity to do that."

Reports from the Fire Service and the Regulatory Quality and Improvement Authority (RQIA) will also be presented to the inquest.

Solicitor John Walsh, representing Belfast City Council, said it was important that representatives from the Fire Service attend the inquest to explain the change in regulations.

He said: "There had been a change in terms of the regulatory regime around fire safety, at the time, from a prescriptive one to one that was self regulatory."

The inquest has been listed to take place from November 4 to 7 in Belfast.

Mr Leckey said: "I think the inquest will last no longer than, at most, two days."

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