Pamela Ellis: Well-known Sheffield Poundland cashier died after setting home on fire in 'cry for help'

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Pam was described as a "great mum" who had served the Sheffield community for 10 years in Poundland.

A woman who was the "life and soul of the party" died after setting her Sheffield home on fire in a "cry for help", a coroner has said.

Pamela 'Pam' Ellis, died following a blaze at her home on Mawfa Avenue, Norton, on October 13, 2022. 

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An inquest into the 43-year-old’s death, held at Sheffield’s Medico Legal Centre on January 19, heard that Pam had started the fire deliberately with a disposable lighter. 

The court heard that the mum suffered from anxiety, depression and was dependent on alcohol. She was known to healthcare providers, having made 19 calls to 111 in four months, and had previously shown "intent to take her life". 

An inquest was held into the death of Pamela Ellis on January 19 2024 at Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre.An inquest was held into the death of Pamela Ellis on January 19 2024 at Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre.
An inquest was held into the death of Pamela Ellis on January 19 2024 at Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre. | National World

In the months leading up to her death, a GP report, read out by Assistant Coroner Katy Dickinson, said that Pam’s alcohol intake increased and her "mental health continued to give cause for concern". She was drinking four bottles of spirits a day without mixers. 

Pam had been offered hospital admissions and appointments with Sheffield Health and Social care services for issues relating to her alcohol addiction and mental health, but had not attended.

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South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue group manager Ellie Gillett said on the day of the fire, firefighters were called to Pam’s home address by 111 operators at around 2.40am. 

Pam had called 111 and said she could see a fire, and the fire alarm could be heard in the background of the call. The inquest heard that Pam had seemed "quite intoxicated and confused" and it seemed that she couldn’t get out of the property.

Ms Gillett said there were no flames when firefighters entered the property, but there was evidence of a "significant fire" in the living room. Pam was found unconscious and not breathing in the kitchen, with her back against the rear door.

Firefighters started CPR outside the property until the ambulance arrived when she was then transported to Northern General Hospital. She was pronounced dead at 4.45am. 

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Firefighters were called to Mawfa Avenue after reports of a woman trapped in a house fire on October 13 2022. Firefighters were called to Mawfa Avenue after reports of a woman trapped in a house fire on October 13 2022.
Firefighters were called to Mawfa Avenue after reports of a woman trapped in a house fire on October 13 2022. | Google

Ms Dickinson asked if there was any indication that Pam had tried to get out of the property. Ms Gillett said: "The fact she was found by the back door is quite supportive evidence that she was trying to get out."

During a post-mortem, it was found that her medical cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning, and alcoholic liver disease, which the toxicologist said "was sufficient enough to take her life at any point".

In court, daughter Jessica Ellis, aged 24, described Pam as a "great mum" and her "best friend" who had supported her interests in swimming and water polo as a child. 

Pam had worked in Poundland as a cashier for 10 years, and was based at the store at the bottom of The Moor. She was a well-known face in the community and "loved" by many customers, said Jessica.

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Pam’s twin sister, Sharon Ellis, said she "held the family together" while being the "life and soul of the party". 

Sharon said that Pam’s mental health declined after the death of Sharon’s seven-week-old baby girl. She added that the health services "didn’t understand" Pam’s grief, and that she had been "desperate for support".

Delivering a short-form conclusion of 'misadventure', Ms Dickinson said: "I think she was probably too intoxicated to help herself out.

"I am so sorry you have had to come here. She seemed a lovely and fun woman and you must cherish those memories."

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