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Pensioner died from burns after fire tragedy

A pensioner who suffered from Alzheimer's Disease died in hospital days after suffering severe burns at her home, an inquest has heard.

Gwendoline Cochrane from Castledawson suffered 70% burns to her body after being engulfed in fire at her Main Street home just days before Christmas 2010.

An inquest in Magherafelt yesterday heard that tragedy struck when the 64-year-old, who required round-the-clock care from her devoted husband Robert, was left alone for less than 15 minutes on December 14, 2010.

Initially taken to Antrim Area Hospital, Mrs Cochrane was later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital where she died from her injuries on December 19.

Giving evidence Mr Cochrane confirmed he and his wife had been married for more than 44 years and that he became a full-time carer for her after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2005.

During the hearing the grieving husband revealed his wife had attended a Christmas party at a care centre in Magherafelt the day she died and that he lit an open fire to warm the house at the time she was due to return home.

The couple then shared a cup of coffee and a bun before a neighbour, who ran a business just yards from the victim's home, asked Mr Cochrane to help him with a quick job.

Mr Cochrane told coroner Joanne Donnelly that after placing a fire guard and tools in front of the fire he went with his neighbour to his business premises.

Mr Cochrane said that he was "away for 10 to 15 minutes at most" and that as he returned to his home he heard a smoke alarm inside the house.

On entering his home he found his wife ablaze in their sitting room.

Mr Cochrane revealed that as he ran to get water his wife ran to another room.

Forensic scientist Ken Arnold confirmed that based on the evidence he had gathered at the scene "the incident was accidental in origin" and was caused by the "victim coming into contact with fire in the living room."

A post-mortem report revealed that Mrs Cochrane died from multiple organ failure due to burns.

In delivering her findings Coroner Joanne Donnelly said Mrs Cochrane's medical condition contributed to her death.

Belfast Telegraph


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