Coroner's concerns after Shotton guest house gas tragedy

A CORONER urged council watchdogs to examine very closely indeed circumstances which led to a man dying of carbon monoxide poisoning in a County Durham boarding house.

Police outside the Albert Care Home in Shotton Colliery
Police outside the Albert Care Home in Shotton Colliery

A CORONER urged council watchdogs to examine very closely indeed circumstances which led to a man dying of carbon monoxide poisoning in a County Durham boarding house.

Andrew Tweddle spoke out as he recorded a narrative verdict on the death of Raymond Iley, 57, who was found alongside 20 of his pet budgerigars at the Albert Guest House at Front Street, Shotton, Peterlee, on January 4 last year.

The inquest was resumed yesterday after Mr Tweddle dramatically adjourned it in March this year after hearing evidence that a gas boiler in the guest house had not been inspected since 2008.

He said at the time: “Some evidence has given me cause for concern as to whether any serious criminal offences have occurred.”

He adjourned the hearing for Durham Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate further.

Yesterday, at the resumption of the hearing in Chester-le-Street, Mr Tweddle was told the CPS had decided against prosecuting the owner of the guest house for manslaughter. Instead, any proceedings would be the responsibility of Durham County Council.

Mr Tweddle said: “It is clearly the case that a deficient boiler caused Mr Iley’s death. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He was killed by deadly gas from a deficient central heating boiler in the cellar of the property.”

Mr Tweddle said he would ask the county council to keep him informed on the progress of any legal proceedings.

“I hope that the prosecuting authority, Durham County Council, look at matters very closely indeed,” he added.

Howard Reed, a gas safety consultant and qualified incident investigator who was called in by Durham Police, said photographs he had seen of a boiler in the cellar of the premises seemed to indicate it had been in a poor condition and poorly ventilated.

He added that the boiler had had work carried out on it between Mr Iley’s death and the time he was called in to inspect it seven weeks later. He said this hindered his investigation.

Mr Tweddle had also heard from his officer, PC Dawn Bradshaw, giving evidence under oath, saying she had contacted the Albert Guest House owner but he had failed to attend the hearing.

Verdict: Narrative.

He was killed by deadly gas from a deficient central heating boiler in the property

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