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Lidgate explosion: Death of Julie Tierney ruled as suicide after mum Pamela died during cancer treatment




The death of a woman who was found laying next to her mother in bed after an explosion at their Lidgate home has been ruled as suicide.

The bodies of Julie Tierney, 50, and her mother Pamela, 78, were discovered by emergency services on May 8 last year - one day after a freak explosion destroyed their bungalow in The Street, Ipswich Coroners Court heard today.

The inquest was told a letter, believed to have been written by Julie, was received by Pamela's sister days after the incident in which Julie said that Pamela had died on May 5 - two days before fire crews were called to reports of 'multiple explosions' at the bungalow.

Lidgate bungalow, The Street (28944414)
Lidgate bungalow, The Street (28944414)

Jane Wakefield, Julie's sister and Pamela's daughter, described her sister as a 'loving and dedicated daughter’, the inquest heard.

“Following our mother's death, I believe Julie's world fell apart and having lived her entire life with our mother, Julie probably felt she had no future,” she said.

Lidgate fire. (28944431)
Lidgate fire. (28944431)

Station commander Conrad Burgess, of Suffolk Fire and Rescue, told the hearing it was 'almost certain' that the fire was started deliberately and that a 'strong smell' of petrol was present in the burnt-out house.

He added that the explosion had occurred in the sunken living room area of the house, where the fire is believed to have started, during which the walls of the room had blown out into the garden.

Mr Burgess said the fire then spread to the other rooms and that the bedroom in which Julie lay with her mother was the last room in the house to set on fire.

"It was a scene that I haven't seen before to that extent," he said. "I've seen rooms that have been entirely engulfed in flames and fire but not an entire bungalow."

Detective Inspector Tamlyn Burgess, who led the police investigation into the incident, said family members and neighbours had described the two women as 'reclusive' who 'would only leave the house if absolutely necessary'.

The inquest heard that prior to the Pamela had been diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer, which was deemed terminal by her GP.

Pamela and Julie had rejected the offer of end of life care and instead chose to deal with it themselves.

Home Office pathologist Dr Nat Carey, who carried out post mortems on both Pamela and Julie, said Pamela was found to have 'high therapeutic' levels of morphine and codeine in her body which he said could be consistent with end of life treatment.

He added that Julie had died from inhalation of fire fumes but that Pamela 'did not die as a result of the fire'.

Senior coroner Nigel Parsley recorded a narrative verdict which stated that Pamela had died as a result of 'the natural progression of an illness whilst on end of life treatment'.

Recording Julie's death as suicide, he said: "She went to lay down next to mum and that gives clear evidence that Julie intended her death to be the result of the fire."


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