Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Gloucester girl's boiling fat death accidental

Tiffany Smith
Tiffany Smith was helping her mother prepare for a birthday party

An eight-year-old girl died after she tipped boiling fat over herself while helping make burgers for her brother's birthday party, an inquest has heard.

Tiffany Smith suffered 38% burns in the family's kitchen in Bathurst Road, Gloucester while helping her mother.

Paula Smith, 36, said she was taking chips from the freezer and told Tiffany not to touch the frying burgers.

A coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death on Tiffany, who died in November 2006.

The food was being prepared for the 10th birthday party of Ricky Smith, now aged 15.

From the moment this occurred her fight for life was a very difficult one
Alan Crickmore, Gloucestershire coroner

Mrs Smith told the inquest she turned round to find Tiffany "on tiptoes" and pulling the fryer basket over.

She said: "Tiffany and I were making beef burger rolls together.

"We had made up a few rolls when I went to get chips out of the freezer."

Mrs Smith had told Tiffany to leave the the burgers alone, and she would deal with them.

"[But] as I turned around I saw her stood up against the worktop and on tiptoes at the fryer," she said.

"I could see her reaching up with the basket of the fryer in her hand and the fryer leaning towards her.

"The next thing, I heard her screaming loudly, 'Mummy help me', she was obviously in lots of pain."

Mrs Smith told the court she took Tiffany's clothes off and put her in a bath pouring water over her with a saucepan.

Tiffany was taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital before being transferred to Frenchay hospital, Bristol and later Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

She suffered burns to her face, chest, legs, neck and back and died at Bristol Royal Hospital for children in November 2006 four weeks later.

'Probably overwhelmed'

Tiffany developed septicaemia and died of broncho-pneumonia, the inquest was told.

Recording his verdict the Gloucestershire coroner, Alan Crickmore, said: "Tiffany had certain rules in the kitchen, including not using appliances such as the kettle.

"On this occasion, probably overwhelmed by the need to help her mother, Tiffany decided to ignore her instructions and start to take the burgers out of the deep fat fryer.

"From the moment this occurred her fight for life was a very difficult one and the more likely outcome was that she wouldn't have survived."

He was satisfied that all the operations Tiffany went through were carried out at the appropriate time, he said.

After the inquest, Mrs Smith said she and her husband Shane Smith, 35, were considering legal action, although the coroner found no evidence of any failure during the hearing.



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