Inquest into victim of house explosion near Leyland dramatically postponed

A coroner has postponed the inquest on explosion victim Carl Whalley because of an ongoing investigation into how Lancashire Police handled complaints about a neighbour dispute before he died.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 4th March 2022, 12:30 pm
Carl Whalley's body was found in the rubble of his home after the fireball.
Carl Whalley's body was found in the rubble of his home after the fireball.

The family of the 57-year-old have been told the hearing, which should have been held on Tuesday in Preston, is to be rescheduled once the inquiry, ordered by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, has reached a conclusion.

Mr Whalley died when a fireball engulfed his semi-detached home in Clayton-le-Woods in October - just hours after he had published a website detailing his attempts to get police to act in a long-running row with a local man.

Lancashire Constabulary referred itself to the IOPC, as required by law, because officers had been in contact with Mr Whalley in the weeks leading up to the explosion.

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The fireball engulfs Carl Whalley's house.

The IOPC later handed the matter back to the force for a "local investigation" by its Professional Standards Department - a move slammed by the Whalley family as "allowing the police to investigate themselves."

Today Carl's brother Dan told the Post the Coroner's Office had called to say the inquest - which, controversially, was only going to be allotted two hours on the court list - was now being rescheduled.

"And it will now be for more than two hours," he added.

"We are delighted that the inquest has been adjourned. We were beginning to feel as though the outcome of the inquest was pre-determined and any evidence contradicting this outcome would not be heard.

"They didn't say when it was rescheduled to. They said they will let me know a new date after the conclusion of the PSD investigation.

"We welcome the delay and we can only hope for a fair and impartial investigation."

The explosion happened around lunchtime on Friday October 14. Neighbours heard a loud bang followed by a fireball which destroyed the semi-detached dormer bungalow in Kirkby Avenue and badly damaged the house next door.

Mr Whalley's body was found in the wreckage. A post mortem showed he had died from smoke inhalation and burns. A melted petrol can was discovered inside the front door and traces of an accelerant were found on downstairs curtains.

The Whalley family recently criticised the IOPC's decision to hand the investigation back to Lancashire Constabulary instead of carrying it out themselves.