BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC News in video and audio
Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 16:59 GMT
Man died burning flame for mother
Wrexham fire
The inquest was told the candle ignited the area like a "tinderbox"
A homeless drug addict living in a skip died from severe burns after lighting a candle in memory of his dead mother, an inquest in Wrexham heard.

Wayne Williams, 32, had been living rough in the town for years and was well-known, the inquest was told.

He lit a candle in his makeshift home on 13 June after attending his mother's funeral, but it was knocked over, igniting the area like a "tinderbox".

Coroner John Hughes recorded a verdict of accidental death.

After the inquest on Thursday, Jim McGrane, of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We are aware there are a number of people living rough in Wrexham.

It was for the best of motives, it was done in remembrance of his mother
Coroner John Hughes
"We would urge them to be careful and to be aware of fire hazards, especially when surrounding themselves with materials which are easily ignited."

The inquest heard how Mr Williams had been living rough for several years after problems with drugs, and had distanced himself from his family.

He was living in a skip behind the Britannia Building Society, and was well-liked by locals, who even loaned him a key to sleep within a locked area behind the building.

They also lent him a suit to attend the funeral of his mother, Patricia Edwards.

The court was told his family invited Mr Williams to the wake afterwards, but he declined and returned to his shelter.

Later that night, after taking heroin, he lit a candle in memory of his mother, but it either fell or was knocked over.

He was found by passer-by Michelle Price, who was commended by the coroner for dialling 999 and helping Mr Williams.

Fire damage at the back of the Britannia Building Society in Wrexham

She said: "The flames on his body were quite high. They were mostly coming from his chest and head. He kept shouting 'help,' and screaming."

Mr Williams was taken to Maelor Hospital, Wrexham, and transferred the following day to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, where he later died from 64% burns.

A pathologist gave the cause of death as severe skin burns and inhalation lung damage.

Mr Williams' brother, Kevin, told the inquest: "I would like to thank everyone for what they did for Wayne, especially the emergency services."

Coroner Mr Hughes said: "He lit a candle to remember her by.

"It fell in a place which was a tinderbox. It's hardly surprising he was consumed by the flames almost immediately."

He added: "It was for the best of motives, it was done in remembrance of his mother.

"I'm convinced this was an accident and not a deliberate act."


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific