Mildenhall: Father died in fire while cooking onion rings

A FATHER who died following a fire in his home had been preparing food while drunk and on drugs, an inquest has heard.

Mark McGowan, 34, died in the early hours of October 8 last year as a result of the blaze at the flat he lived in with his mother, Carol Coleman.

The inquest in Bury St Edmunds heard how Mr McGowan, who had worked at Marshall Vehicle engineering at Mildenhall Industrial Estate, had apparently been out drinking before arriving home to prepare some food.

The premises was secure on arrival of the fire service so entry had to be forced.

Inside, the cooker was found to be turned on at 180 degrees, the grill was switched on with what appeared to be onion rings and the hob was also on.


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Mr McGowan was found face down in the hall/toilet area with soot marks.

The inquest heard how the indication from the fire service was the smoke and carbon monoxide as a result of the fire would have filled the room and Mr McGowan may have become disorientated.

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His smoke detectors had been working, but it was a neighbour who sounded the alarm.

Toxicology results revealed cocaine use and that Mr McGowan had had 176 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. His cause of death was given as asphyxia due to smoke inhalation, with alcohol and cocaine abuse as contributory factors.

Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said from the evidence Mr McGowan had never talked of self-harm.

“This does seem in every respect to be a very tragic accident that has led to the death of Mark Andrew McGowan,” he said.

At the time of his death those who had known Mr McGowan had spoken of him being “the nicest bloke you will ever meet”.

Terry Holloway, of The Marshall Group, had said Mr McGowan had worked for the company for three years and was a “popular employee and a very well-liked man”.

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