Man died after setting fire to barricaded room

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A MAN suffering paranoia died of carbon monoxide poisoning after barricading himself in his lounge and setting fire to the furniture, an inquest heard.

Herts Coroners Court was told Stephen Tully, 63, of Great Palmers, Hemel Hempstead, thought his flat was bugged, he was being followed and his food was poisoned.

On December 20 last year firefighters broke into the lounge of the ground floor flat at the supported housing scheme and found three different fires had been set using bottles of surgical spirit and methylated spirit.

Steven Borrell, station commander at the risk reduction department at Herts Fire and Rescue Service, told the court: “It looked like the whole area was tidied up prior to the fire. The bedroom had been tidied up and all photographs put into a box. Christmas and birthday cards had been placed in the bin area in the kitchen.

“It looked like the area had been barricaded, the blinds drawn down and something placed against the window.”

The court heard smoke caused Mr Tully, who had heart disease, to have a cardiac arrest and he died two days later in hospital.

Mr Tully’s family last saw him on December 15 and reported that he was paranoid and had been drinking, having given up for ‘many, many years’ because of problems.

Coroner Edward Thomas, recording a verdict that he took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed, said: “He was getting quite paranoid, he had cut himself off and in a way that was how the fire service found him.

“He was cutting himself off from the things that were troubling him and he thought the only way was to end his own life. He was feeling threatened, imaginary threats but to him they must have seemed very real.”