Neighbours battled to save man from Haverhill house fire
Neighbours battled to save a man from his blazing home in Haverhill, but were beaten back by dense smoke, an inquest has heard.
The body of retired detective sergeant Delroy Watson, 48, was eventually recovered from the top floor of the three storey house in Bellings Road by fire fighters.
On Tuesday (August 11) the inquest at Bury St Edmunds heard how neighbours had heard Mr Watson’s cries and one had seen him at an upstairs window shouting for help as the fire flickered behind him.
The fire was discovered at about 2.30am on the morning of March 19 and caused extensive damage to the house and a neighbouring property.
A post mortem examination conducted by consultant pathologist Dr Sheila Purdy concluded that Mr Watson, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, had died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from a house fire.
Deputy Suffolk Coroner Yvonne Blake said a fire investigation had concluded that an electrical fault was the most likely cause. The remains of a fan heater had been found at the seat of the fire. There were no suspicious circumstances.
The inquest heard how neighbours had been alerted by shouting, banging noises and a fire alarm being activated.
Four people attempted to help, smashing their way into the house and running upstairs where they were confronted by a burning carpet and were then forced back downstairs and outside by billowing dense smoke.
Lewis Stipic, 19, was among the group who attempted to force their way into the house to rescue Mr Watson.
“We heard some banging and some shouting and screaming,” Mr Stipic told the Echo. “I had a look and there was smoke coming from the roof of the house.
“I called 999 and then ran up the road to see what was going on.
“I went in there with another guy, I don’t know who he was. We got to the second floor and the whole place was smoked out.
“I couldn’t go any further. The smoke was burning my eyes. I shouted up a few times, but no one answered. I wish I could have done more, but I did everything I could.”
Mrs Blake said fire fighters were initially unable to reach the top floor because of heat and smoke but when they did the body of Mr Watson was discovered.
Mr Watson, who left the Metropolitan police in 2012, had been planning to move to Walthamstow to join his wife and their son, said Mrs Blake.
The deputy coroner recorded a narrative verdict that Mr Watson died in a house fire as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Del spent 26 years as a detective with the Metropolitan Police. During his time, he won many special commendations for his service and participated actively in high-profile initiatives, including Operation Trident, which targeted gun crime in London.
Del started working in the police service as a constable in 1987. He quickly excelled and began training as a detective.
His expertise saw him contribute to a wide range of police work. In 1999, he worked alongside the mortuary identification team, helping families identify loved ones after the Paddington rail disaster. He also assisted on the Jill Dando case while working in the murder investigation team.
Del moved to Haverhill in 2005. He quickly became a much-loved part of the community, leading campaigns to improve road safety in is area.