Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 14:20 UK

Victim 'disconnected' smoke alarm

A man who was engulfed in flames after he fell asleep with a cigarette had disconnected his own smoke alarm, an inquest has heard.

John Noble, 67, died in hospital after the fire at Cecil Drive, Corby, Northamptonshire, last August.

The inquest heard his partner Fay Gallacher found Mr Noble in flames in the lounge where he had fallen asleep after a heavy drinking session.

Coroner Anne Pember recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Ms Gallacher told the inquest at Kettering Magistrates' Court how she tried to put out the flames as her partner screamed for help.

Body alight

She said both were heavy smokers and would chain smoke during a "bender", but told the inquest Mr Noble had removed the batteries from the smoke detector in the lounge of their bungalow to stop it going off.

She said: "I could hardly see anything for smoke and then I realised John was in flames. He was screaming, 'Fay, Fay, help me'.

"His whole body was alight, even his clothes and his hair."

He was taken to a hospital's burns unit and died later the same day.

A post-mortem examination found he died from burns and inhaling hot gases.

Fire officer Neil Imrie, from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said there was evidence of the "careless use and disposal" of smoking materials and that was the most likely cause of the fire.

The coroner said: "What is extremely sad is that there was a smoke alarm there, no battery fitted, which might have alerted him or his partner to the smoke."

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