Dad accidentally set fire to himself
20 July 2009
By Staff Reporter
A DEPRESSED father-of-two died after pouring white spirit over his clothes and accidentally setting fire to himself at his Tibshelf home, an inquest was told.
Simon Clark (44), of Babbington Street, died at Chesterfield Royal Hospital after suffering burns to 65% of his body.
Barbara Clark, his wife for the past 19 years, told a Chesterfield inquest on Monday their marriage had been a bit of a 'roller-
coaster ride' since Mr Clark's father's death and he had threatened to harm himself in the past.
A month before his death he told a GP he was going through a tense time in his marriage and was prescribed anti-depressants.
Mrs Clark said he brought her a glass of wine on the night of 14th March.
She told him she did not want it and he went into their bedroom and began ripping up photographs.
Mr Clark, a former dispensing optician, later poured white spirit over his shirt and held a lighter but did not ignite the shirt.
He then held a Stanley knife to his wrist and said he wasn't brave enough to do anything.
His wife then saw some flames coming from a towel he was holding and realised his clothing had caught fire.
She covered him with coats in a bid to smother the flames and poured water over him.
Pc Kim Holden said she arrived at the house after midnight and saw Mr Clark in the dining room covered with coats and towels.
He was 'kneeling on all fours and badly burned' and she sprayed him using a fire extinguisher.
A fellow officer also doused him with water and when paramedics arrived he was taken by air ambulance to hospital.
Fire investigation officer Mark Bailey said a cigarette lighter was the most probable cause of the fire.
Mrs Clark told the inquest her husband had asked her to go to the bedroom before the incident.
She added: "I said no. I wanted more time and space to sort things out in our normal life rather than just sleep together. I don't think he was happy with that.
"But I'm sure it was an accident. He wanted me to put the flames out. He had been playing with the lighter or lighting a cigarette."
Deputy North Derbyshire coroner Nigel Anderson recorded a verdict of accidental death.
"Over a period of years he had made threats of self-harm or suicide but there were no real attempts to carry them out," said Mr Anderson.
He believed Mr Clark poured white spirit over himself and then threatened to set himself on fire in a bid to influence his wife's actions.
The incident had 'settled down' when his clothes suddenly caught fire as he either prepared to light a cigarette or played with the lighter.
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- Last Updated: 20 July 2009 3:58 PM
- Source: n/a
- Location: Mansfield