Monday 18 December 2017

Blaze tragedy pensioner 'dead before fire took hold'

"Sometimes the source of a fire is consumed by the fire," said Det Sgt Thomas Carey. (Stock Photo)

The son of a pensioner who came home to find the property they shared on fire desperately tried to save his father but was beaten back by smoke.

Dermot Murphy lived at Monaloe Crescent, Blackrock, Co Dublin, with his dad Sonny (85). He arrived home on November 24, 2015 to find the sitting room on fire.

He reached the hallway before he was forced back by the fumes. "All I could see was smoke and fire and flames coming from the couch. I couldn't see my dad," said Mr Murphy.


"It started getting into my eyes and I started to choke.

"I saw the Jack Russell run out the door and I followed him."

Former Dublin City Council employee Sonny was described as strong and in good health.

He had given up smoking 15 years before, the city's coroner's court heard.

He drank two pints with friends in the Magic Carpet pub that day before returning home at 5.45pm.

"He was always in good form and no different that day," said witness Anthony Clarke.

Gardai found that the fire started on the couch but could not establish what caused it.

"Sometimes the source of a fire is consumed by the fire," said Det Sgt Thomas Carey.

Gardai found no evidence of foul play.

However, it was noted that the body moved from the couch to the floor during the blaze.

Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher questioned how this might have happened, but the circumstances revealed no answer.

Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis reported extensive burns to the body but no carbon monoxide in the lungs.


He found evidence of coronary heart disease and gave the cause of death as a heart attack that happened around the time of the fire.

"He may have had a sudden event, perhaps even with a match in his hand," said Dr Gallagher.

"We just can't explain how he ended up on the floor.

"But we do know from the medical evidence that he was deceased before this fire took hold."

The coroner returned an open verdict, noting that, while gardai found nothing suspicious at the scene, there remained unanswered questions about the tragedy.

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