West Sussex coroner’s third call to government

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THE West Sussex coroner is writing to the government for the third time in 12 months after another vulnerable person died because there were no batteries in his smoke alarm.

Penelope Schofield initially spoke out to government after 65-year-old Peter Lester, of Gratwicke Road, Worthing, died in a fire when he was in his flat on his own, without a working smoke detector. Now, she said she had been left with no other choice than to write another letter to housing minister Grant Shapps under corner’s rule 43 after 87-year-old Selsey man, Trevor Barwick, died in almost identical circumstances. She said: “My argument is how much is it for a life. We need to alert the public, but also the government, of this quite clear risk to vulnerable people.

“I’m horrified we are here again, faced with the death of a vulnerable person who died in a rented property. In all three of these cases the death could have been avoided if there was a working smoke alarm. I do not believe vulnerable people should be expected to replace batteries in smoke detectors. I hope it will be a nationally introduced system.”

The first letter was written after the death of Mary Moss, 64, of St David’s Gate, Lancing.