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Tributes to man killed in Haverhill house fire

By Sammi Nice

Del Watson and Rachel Watson
Del Watson and Rachel Watson

The family of a man killed in a house fire have paid tribute to him and thanked local residents and emergency services for their efforts to save him.

Del Watson, 48, died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a fire tore through his home in Bellings Road.

Del left behind a widow, Rachel Watson, and a baby son.

In a statement, Rachel paid tribute to her late husband, and praised the emergency services and members of the public for their attempts to rescue him from the fire.

She said: “The family and I would like to thank the neighbours and emergency services for their efforts to help Del.

“We would also like to thank the people of Haverhill for their support during this extremely difficult time.

“Del has left a huge hole in all of our lives, which can never be filled.”

On 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.

Mr Watson, who left the 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, a retired detective, had spent 26 years working 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 his area.

A community fund-raising group was set up to help those affected by the fire get back on their feet. Residents quickly got behind the group, raising more than £7,000. It is understood that the funds were divided between Mr Watson’s family and the family in the neighbouring house that was damaged in the fire.

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