12/05/2009

Cooker Fault Killed Elderly Belfast Woman, Says Coroner

A domestic tragedy was recalled this week when a coroner found that a 91-year-old woman died from carbon monoxide poisoning - after closing the door on the grill of her gas cooker while it was in operation.

The needless death of Gwen Stanford at her Shore Road home in north Belfast this January was found to be because of a design flaw in her cooker - one of two makes that have since been redesigned.

Coroner Brian Sherrard said that a post mortem examination concluded that she had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Her death was investigated by the PSNI, Forensic Science and the Health and Safety Executive.
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The coroner said today he was satisfied that she "died accidentally when the grill of her gas cooker was operated while the door was closed thereby allowing toxic levels of carbon monoxide to build up in her home".

A statement from the Lord Chief Justice's Office in Belfast said that the Health and Safety Executive confirmed the tragedy was caused by a design flaw in two makes of cooker.

This meant that carbon monoxide could build up when the doors where shut while in operation.

The design has now been changed to remove a seal on the inside of the grill door to ensure that air can be drawn through even with the door shut.

(BMcC/JM)

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