Warning over heaters after Norfolk couple’s death

People have been warned to get heating equipment regularly checked after an elderly couple were found dead in their home.

Albert Grand, 83, and his wife Joan, 78, were found dead at Barbers Cottage in Swafield, on November 28.

They had been using a solid fuel heater which had not been serviced for several years and leaked fatal carbon monoxide when turned on.

Police had broken down the back door after one of the couple's two daughters, Linda Applegate, and her son Dominic raised the alarm.

They had visited the house and seen a newspaper lying on the kitchen floor, which was uncharacteristic for the usually tidy pair.

An inquest into their death at Assembly House in Norwich yesterday heard that Mr Grand was found dead in the lounge.

He had died of carbon monoxide poisoning, but also had hypothermia and heart disease.

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His wife was found slumped on the floor in the downstairs bathroom.

Mr Applegate said that the couple regularly visited him and his children.

'They were fit and active people, they were members of a gym in Bodham and they would go three times a week,' he said.

'Grandad would cycle every morning to get his paper.'

Mr Grand, known as Claud, had previously worked as a labourer for Juliet Buckingham on the fruit farm she owned in the village, while his wife worked for the family as a servant.

The couple had lived in the cottage, which belonged to the Buckingham's, for 54 years and had been allowed to stay on after their retirement.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said that there was 'no clear arrangement as to who was responsible for what' in the rental agreement, but that it was understood that the couple were charged with maintaining the property, including the heater.

On May 12 this year they would have been married for 60 years.

Howard Reed, an incident investigator working on behalf of CORGI Technical Services, said that there was 'no doubt' that the solid fuel heater in the dining room of the house was capable of producing fatal levels of carbon monoxide.

'The appliance was in a pretty poor state of repair,' he said.

'The indications were that it hadn't been in use for some time. The flume was found to be leaking, the door of the appliance was leaking.'

Mr Armstrong said: 'this was clearly the source of the leak in carbon monoxide which led no doubt to the death of Mr Grand and may have contributed to the death of Mrs Grand.

'Had this burner been cleaned and serviced on a regular basis the likelihood of this incident would've been considerably reduced.'

He said that the tragedy highlighted the need for everyone to make sure their appliances were regularly serviced.

'There were devoted to each other, there were devoted to their children and grandchildren,' he said. 'There were a couple, it seems, with a remarkable zest for life.'

He recorded a verdict of accidental death from carbon monoxide poisoning in the case of Mr Grand and from a haemorrhage from a gastric ulceration in the case of Mrs Grand.

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