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Norwich man set fire to his own flat, inquest told

PUBLISHED: 09:20 01 October 2014 | UPDATED: 09:20 01 October 2014

Fire at Hotblack Road, Norwich July 7, 2014. Photo David Bale

Fire at Hotblack Road, Norwich July 7, 2014. Photo David Bale

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A man was killed by inhaling smoke after setting light to his own home, an inquest has heard.

A man was killed by inhaling smoke after setting light to his own home, an inquest has heard.

Robert Curson, 62, died at his one-bedroom ground floor flat in Hotblack Road, off Dereham Road in Norwich on July 7.

Yesterday’s Norwich inquest heard that Mr Curson had a long history of depression, and was under the care of the mental health team.

The inquest heard that he had set fire to some of his own artwork, clothes, paper and textiles, near the bedroom door of his flat.

He shut the windows and it was not until the next morning that neighbours smelled the smoke and called emergency services.

Firefighters forced entry to the flat and Mr Curson was found fully clothed lying on his bed. He was declared dead at the scene.

Fire investigator Brian Walshe said an investigation concluded that Mr Curson had deliberately set fire to his flat on the evening of July 6. He had then laid down on his bed.

While there was a smoke alarm in the flat, it did not have a battery.

Police also investigated the incident but found no suspicious circumstances.

The inquest was attended by Mr Curson’s sister Jane Reast, who said in a statement that he had lived on his own at the flat for several years.

He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression and had made two previous attempts at self-harm.

She said that her brother was a talented visual artist who appreciated the north Norfolk coast.

She also said that on the day before he died he had called her, which she said was unusual, as she normally had to contact him. On that occasion he said that he was “not too bad”.

The cause of death was given as carbon monoxide toxicity.

Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake concluded that while Mr Curson died by his own hand, there was no indication that he intended to take his own life.

If you need help, call the Samaritans on 08457 9090 90.

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