Lincoln Coroners' Court

Man accidentally set himself on fire

A Spalding lorry driver accidently set himself on fire while burning rubbish in his back garden, an inquest into his death has heard.

John Willows (63), of Willesby Road, died of his injuries following the incident which occurred at around 7pm on Tuesday, July 29, last year.

The inquest heard that he suffered grade three and four burns – the most severe categories – to 70 per cent of his body.

The circumstances surrounding how Mr Willows came to be on fire were not mentioned in the hearing which lasted less than three and a half minutes.

Her Majesty’s Coastguard’s helicopter was among the emergency services to attend to Mr Willows, who the inquest heard used a mobility scooter to get around.

After paramedics treated him at the scene he was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Assistant coroner Paul Cooper told the hearing: “Mr Willows was a 63-year-old gentleman who was admitted under the care of the burns and IT teams at QEHB intensive care.

“He was burning rubbish in the back garden with a neighbour using lighter fluid.

“The neighbour stepped away for a few minutes and returned to find Mr Willows on fire.

“The fire was extinguished by the fire services.

“And the air ambulance crew intubated the patient on the scene. He was treated for 70 per cent surface area burns.”

The hearing was told that Mr Willows suffered multiple organ failure and systemic inflammatory response syndrome.

It was also stated that he had a recent background of lung disease that was being treated by his GP, high blood pressure and excessive alcohol intake.

Mr Cooper said that Mr Willows had a “poor” response to treatment.

“Given his age, psychological reserve and a significant level of injury this was seen to be a very likely unsurvivable injury,” he continued.

“The conclusion after taking into account the facts of death and all the documents submitted in evidence is that the correct conclusion in this instance is one of accident.”

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