Record of Investigation Into Death (Without Inquest)

Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
Rule 11

I, Robert Pearce, Coroner, having investigated the death of Gloria Jean DENMAN

Find :

(a) the deceased is Gloria Jean Denman born 2 January 1959;

(b) the Mrs Denman died on 15 March 2011 at her home in Mayfield;

(c) the cause of her death was carbon monoxide poisoning;

(d) no other person contributed to the cause of her death.

Circumstances :

1. Gloria Jean Denman was born on 2 January 1959. She lived in a rented house at Mayfield with her husband Kenneth Denman and her granddaughter Samantha. Mrs Denman was in poor health. She was confined to a wheelchair.

2. On the evening of Monday 14 March 2011 Mrs Denman was at home in her bedroom. Samantha was in her own room. At about 9.30 pm her husband Kenneth left to go out. Until about 11.30 or a little later the Denman's friend Andrew Howell was at the house to help look after Mrs Denman.

3. Mr Howell left to return to his home in Newnham, not far away, at about 11.30 pm or a little later. At 12.24 am Mrs Denman phoned Mr Howell to tell him that there was a fire at her house. A neighbour phoned Tasmania Fire Service at 12.26 am. At about the same time Samantha was woken by the fire. She jumped out a side window and alerted another neighbour.

4. The fire service arrived at 12.32 am. The fire was extinguished within 10 minutes. However Mrs Denman was found dead in her room.

5. The coronial investigation included interview of witnesses by officers of Tasmania Police, a post mortem examination conducted by a pathologist from Northern Tasmanian Pathology Service and an investigation by Tasmania Fire Service.

6. The post mortem examination disclosed that Mrs Denman suffered burns, but the principal cause of her death was carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odourless and colourless gas that is caused by the incomplete combustion of fuel in various ways, including during house fires. The fire service investigation concluded that the likely source of the fire was an electrical failure in the television in the lounge room near the front of the house.

7. The fire service investigation disclosed that there were no smoke alarms at the house.

Comments & Recommendations :

8. I have decided not to hold an inquest into Mrs Denman's death because the investigation has sufficiently disclosed her identity, the time, place, cause of death, relevant circumstances concerning the death and the particulars needed to register the death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act.

9. Having conducted an investigation I do not consider that the holding of an inquest would elicit any information further to that already disclosed.

10. In particular I am satisfied that none of those present at the time of the fire had any opportunity to do anything that could have saved Mrs Denman. The fire was well established by the time Mr Howell and the neighbours became aware of it and it was impossible for them to gain access. They took every step that was reasonably open to them. The fire service attended within a very short time.

11. I have little doubt that the presence of operating smoke alarms would have led to earlier detection of the fire and given Mrs Denman more opportunity for escape.

I convey my sincere condolences to Mrs Denman's family.

DATED: 8 March 2012 at Launceston in Tasmania


Robert Pearce