Family perishes in crisp bag tragedy

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A WIGAN mum lost both her children when a crisp packet blocked a chimney and deadly fumes filled their lounge, an inquest has heard.

Trevor Wallwork, 50, and his children Kimberley, 12, and Harry, nine, were watching TV when an empty crisp packet was thrown on to the coal fire.

It rose up ‘like a hot air balloon’ and then blocked the chimney, which prevented fumes from the coal fire from escaping.

Lethal gases seeped back into the living room and the family was slowly overcome by carbon monoxide as they watched television.

Mr Wallwork, who was originally from Swinton in Salford, was married to his second wife Susan for six years before the tragedy unfolded in Co. Sligo, Ireland, in December 2011.

The family moved there about six or seven years ago, after Mr Wallwork divorced his first wife Donna Farrimond, the children’s mother, who is disabled and lives in Wigan.

Their bodies were discovered the next day after Mr Wallwork failed to drop off the children ahead of a planned visit to his terminally ill wife Susan, 52, in hospital.

At a Bolton inquest into their deaths, which was attended by Ms Farrimond, a coroner said the accident was ‘unimaginable and unexpected’ and was one of the worst tragedies he had come across.

Chief Fire Officer for Sligo Paul Coyle said an investigation of the property discovered a blockage close to the top of the chimney.

He told the court through a statement that he concluded a ‘coincidental and incredible’ set of circumstances were responsible for the deaths.

The amount of carbon monoxide in the room would have risen quickly to ‘very dangerous’ levels as the family sat there unaware.

The bodies of Mr Wallwork and his children were found the next day when his step-daughter, Vicky, arrived after failing to get any response by phone.

Mrs Wallwork, who was in hospital being treated for cancer at the time, died about six months later.

Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said the cause of all three deaths was carbon monoxide poisoning with high levels detected in the 
blood.

Wigan Coroner Alan Walsh recorded verdicts of accidental death and added: “I have found it to be one of the most tragic cases I have heard in the court after sitting here for 12 years.”

To find our more about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, visit www.hse.gov.co.uk