July 21, 2024

Inquest over fatal fire at Gibson Court reported by media

GibsonCourtTwo and a half years after her death the inquest is finally taking place into the death of Irene Cockerton, 87, in the fire at Gibson Court, in Surrey.

Local media are reporting the inquest, which will conclude at the end of the week. A verdict will take several weeks.

Mrs Cockerton died of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning as fire swept through the site in Hinchley Wood, near Esher, on September 30 2011.

On Friday the inquest was told that residents were served tea by the house manager before the scale of the fire alert became know.

Kingston Guardian report here

The fire started in a flat two doors from that of Mrs Cockerton, which was on the first floor. She was the only resident not to have survived. Her body was found in a wardrobe of her flat.

GibsonCourt2According to the Kingston Guardian, Marion Debeer, the former Peverel house manager of Gibson Court, who lived on site, told the inquest she was woken by the fire alarm at about 12.05am.

She said: “This was not that unusual because of the burnt toast syndrome which does happen in these buildings. I assumed it was the same thing.”

At first the incident did not seem serious and there was no smoke or sense of panic among the residents.

Once in the communal lounge, Ms Debeer boiled the kettle and made cups of tea for residents.

She then looked outside and noticed smoke and went to investigate.

“At that point, I heard water pouring down from the direction and area where the fire had started,” Ms Debeer reportedly told the inquest.

“I knew it must have been coming from the fire brigade. That is when I started to feel panicky. I knew we were dealing with something serious.

“I immediately told the group in the lounge to move out to the car park and then began the evacuation procedure.”

Three “vulnerable” residents were unaccounted for. Two residents were found and brought to safety, but the fire brigade was unable to locate Mrs Cockerton.

It is reported on the Get Surrey website here that the fire started in the rented flat occupied by Patricia Blair.

She is quoted saying:“I went into my room at around 10pm to watch TV but I soon fell asleep,” she said.

“When I woke up my flat and curtains were on fire so I got out of bed.

“I could hear someone call me, which I realised was the care line.

“I told them my flat was on fire and they said to get out, so I made my way to the hallway.”

The inquest is inquiring into the issues of whether fire doors were left open and whether fire drills took place.

No explanation is offered why this inquest has taken place so long after the event.

The inquest continues.

No comments will be published on this issue until the inquest has reached a verdict. To date, only part of the evidence has been presented.