Sheffield man died before body caught fire

Regent Court flats, where Stephen Peck died
Regent Court flats, where Stephen Peck died
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A DRINKER died from alcohol poisoning after a night of heavy boozing - then set his own body ablaze when a lit cigarette fell from his lips to his chest.

A horrified pal found Stephen Peck’s body in flames on the settee of a flat in Regent Court, Hillsborough, in August last year.

His body had suffered burns to the chest and face, but no ash was found in his nose or lungs, indicating the 48-year-old was already dead when the cigarette tumbled from his mouth.

A pathologist concluded Mr Peck, a father-of-four from Wharncliffe Avenue, Wharncliffe Side, had died as a result of acute alcohol intoxication, and was dead before the cigarette set his clothing on fire.

Mr Peck died in a flat belonging to Christopher Eastwood - a man he did not know before that night.

The pair had met in The Shakey pub on Bradfield Road before deciding to walk back to Mr Eastwood’s flat via a shop where they bought three litres of cider and a bottle of vodka.

The Sheffield inquest heard Mr Eastwood went to bed, leaving Mr Peck on the sofa, with the cider barely touched but the vodka bottle empty.

Just before 2.30am Mr Eastwood was woken by the sound of his smoke detector - and when he entered the room he found Mr Peck engulfed in flames.

Mr Eastwood, who admitted in court he had an alcohol problem of his own, told the inquest he had been drinking in The Shakey since 9am, as he often did, and his memory of events that night was ‘almost nonexistent’.

“We were both well and truly gone, but I’m pretty sure he smoked because I remember rolling him one,” he said.

Describing the terrifying moment he found Mr Peck ablaze, he said: “I ran to get a pan of water to throw on him, but I couldn’t find my keys or my phone because Mr Peck had sat on my jacket, so I went to the bathroom window and shouted for help.”

Forensic pathologist Dr Naomi Carter found Mr Peck, who had a history of alcohol abuse, was almost five times the drink drive limit.

She concluded it was likely Mr Peck died as a result of alcohol poisoning and that, after he became unconscious, he dropped a lit cigarette onto his clothes.

Deputy Coroner Donald Coutts-Wood recorded a verdict of misadventure.