Belfast Telegraph

Trust in review after Lisburn car inferno

By Adrian Rutherford

A health trust is to launch a review into the death of a former patient who was found dead alongside her husband in a burnt-out car near Lisburn yesterday morning.

The pair, who have been named locally as the Gardiners, were found in a vehicle which had exploded in flames in a field near Ravernet, outside Lisburn.

They are believed to have been aged in their 50s and from the Carnbane Road area of the village.

Police quickly said they were not treating their deaths as suspicious, but have refused to provide any more details on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

It is understood Mrs Gardiner had been receiving inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care from the South Eastern Trust.

However, she was being cared for by her husband Cecil before her death.

A spokesperson for the trust confirmed the woman was known to its services.

In a statement, the trust said: "The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust would like to offer its condolences to the family at such a tragic time.

"As with all unexpected deaths, a full multi-disciplinary review will be undertaken as soon as possible."

It is believed the couple left their home around 6.30pm on Sunday.

Their car, a red Ford Focus, was discovered on fire in a field at Green Road, outside Ravernet, at about 9.50pm.

The emergency services were alerted after a neighbour heard an explosion in a field off Green Road, where the vehicle was in flames.

An exclusion zone was maintained for a time after a gas canister was discovered inside the car. The burnt-out wreckage was still visible yesterday over the ridge of a recently-cut field.

The entrance, which had been left open, was sealed off by police tape as forensic experts dressed in white suits worked at the scene.

In Ravernet, neighbours were reluctant to speak about the incident, with one simply describing it as "a dreadful tragedy".

DUP councillor Paul Stewart said the community was shocked and numbed.

"They were a well-known couple and there is great sadness among people over what has happened," he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends.

"I am also grateful to the emergency services for their response to what must have been a very difficult and traumatic scene."

Assembly Member Jonathan Craig said it was a difficult time for everyone.

"This is a very difficult situation to deal with and my sympathies are with the family," he said.

"They have been left facing a huge tragedy and a huge hole in their life."

Mr Craig said an urgent review was needed into how depression and stress were dealt with.

Lisburn mayor Brian Heading also expressed his sympathy to the couple's relatives.

"This is an awful tragedy which has stunned many people in the greater Lisburn area and beyond," he said.

Alliance councillor Jennifer Coulter spoke of her shock at the tragedy.

"My thoughts are with them at this time of extreme sadness," she said. "This is a very difficult time for all those who were close to the people who have died, and my prayers are with their families and friends."

A PSNI spokesman said: "The police investigation is at a very early stage, however at this time a crime is not suspected."

Detectives want to trace the couple's movements in the time before the report of the fire.

Anyone with knowledge of their movements between 6.30pm and 9.45pm is urged to call 0845 600 8000.

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