Pensioner suicide by electrocution

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A pensioner electrocuted himself by dropping a fan heater into his bathtub, an inquest has been told.

Herbert Bridge, 83, lived alone in a small static caravan at a site on First Avenue, Stalmine, Wyre.

On April 6 this year neighbours found his blackened body in a bathtub.

Friends became worried about Bert, as he was known, as they had not seen him for a few days and his car had not been moved.

William Banks, a neighbour, tried his best to see inside the caravan and check on his friend but every window was blocked and nothing could be seen.

At the hearing in Lancaster, Coroner Howard McCann read a statement on Mr Banks's behalf.

He said: "I opened the outer door of the caravan and to my surprise found the inner door open.

"I shouted out but got no response and made my way into the kitchen.

"I searched around and quickly found Bert dead in his bathtub."

William then ran back to his caravan and telephoned the emergency services.

DS David Reeder, of Lancashire police, said: "Bert was in the bath dressed in trousers, a woollen jumper and slippers.

"He had been dead for some time.

"An electric fan heater had been placed in the water. An extension cable had allowed Bert to bring the heater in from the hall. His death would have been instantaneous.

"Bert had not been seen for at least three days but I believe it may have been anything up to a week.

"There was a newspaper in the lounge which was a week old and that seemed to confirm the date to me.

"There would be no other reason to have a heater in the bathroom.

"There was a gas heater in there already."

Bert's wife Florence had died some time in 2003. He was on medication and sleeping tablets to treat insomnia but nothing stronger.

He had no family left in England and the executors of his will are looking in Australia for possible family connections.

A search for his family has revealed nothing and no relatives have come forward.

His will was left in a prominent place on the television.

There was also a utility bill in the lounge with money in the envelope.

Coroner Howard McCann said: "I had wondered, as he was fully clothed, whether he meant to kill himself but I can come to no other conclusion than he committed suicide and that is my verdict."