Depressed East Lancs mum died after setting fire to her children’s toys

Victim Katrina Black

Victim Katrina Black

First published in News by , Reporter

A MOTHER-of-two who died in a house fire was heard screaming for help at her burning home after setting fire to her children’s toys, an inquest heard.

Katrina Black, 21, torched plastic toys, nappies and clothes at her home in Manchester Road, Hapton, while home alone on Sunday, October 27, Burnley Coroner’s Court heard.

Her friend Christopher McNull, who she had called, and several neighbours stood helplessly outside the property.

The inquest heard that firefighters initially mistakenly went to Manchester Road, Burnley.

But this delay of one minute and 55 seconds, according to East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor, would not have saved Miss Black, known to friends as Rosie, who was found dead in an upstairs bedroom.

Miss Black became depressed following the birth of her second child early last year, the hearing was told, and social services took her children into care. She then took several suspected overdoses of painkillers and anti-depressants during 2013.

When she fell pregnant again, and fearing that child would also be taken into care, she had a termination on October 1.

On the morning of October 27, Julie Stirpe, Miss Black’s psychotherapist, received a series of texts and a voicemail message from her saying she had ‘heard voices’ and asking if she could be put under secure care. Ms Stirpe was on holiday and unable to visit her patient and made an emergency appointment to see her the following day. In a statement, Ms Stirpe said: “Rosie was attempting to access emergency help during the daytime of October 27, but unfortunately did not access it via accident and emergency or the out-of-hours service.”

Just before 10pm, Miss Black repeatedly called and texted Mr McNull and Darren Ashworth, the father of her children, asking them to come over.

By 10.27pm, the house was ablaze, the court heard.

Coroner Mr Taylor recorded a narrative verdict and said: “I believe she expected and wanted to be found. No-one can predict the spread of fire.

“The pathologist said collapse and death following inhalation of smoke can happen in a few breaths. Mr McNull and Mr Ashworth could never have had any idea of Rosie’s intention.”

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