Man was overcome by generator fumes

Man was overcome by generator fumes

10 January 2018

A CORONER has warned about the dangers of carbon monoxide after a man died from the fumes of an electricity generator.

Jeremy Bryce died after running the generator in his Crew Road home, near Downpatrick, to power a faulty kettle which had been tripping the electricity supply in his house.

The 64 year-old was found slumped in his porch where the generator was positioned after being overcome by the gas in the enclosed space.

An inquest at Downpatrick Courthouse on Monday heard from a friend who said he became concerned when Mr Bryce didn’t turn up for a meeting and then failed to answer his phone.

Mr Andrew Brown said he called at the home on March 8 last year and found Mr Bryce lying against the front door of the porch. Emergency services were called and a doctor later pronounced him dead at the scene.

The inquest heard a lead from the generator in the porch ran under a closed door to an extension lead which powered the kettle in the nearby kitchen.

When questioned by the coroner, Mr Patrick McGurgan, as to whether Mr Bryce had ever engaged in a conversation around suicide, Mr Brown said that in their last meeting he “seemed to be in good form”.

He said he had become friends with Mr Bryce through a mutual interest in sailing, and that Mr Bryce was looking forward to them carrying out some repairs on a boat.

“He talked about what we needed to do to get the boat ready for the water for the incoming season,” said Mr Brown.

Dr Peter Ingram, Assistant State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, said the autopsy had found a level of carbon monoxide in the blood that was well 

within the fatal limit. He said there was a very low level of alcohol in the body and no signs of violence.

It was suggested that in an attempt to turn off the generator Mr Bryce was overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning and collapsed.

Mr Ian Fulton, a forensic scientist, said the kettle was faulty due to water ingress.

The coroner asked him: “The remedy would have been to replace the kettle?”

“Yes,” Mr Fulton replied.

The coroner added: “It seems to me Mr Bryce went to a lot of trouble to sort this matter out when it would have been a lot easier to have bought a kettle.”

Mr Julian Halligan, another forensic scientist, said the generator was not faulty but that it was expected to be used in a ventilated environment.

An officer from the Fire and Rescue Service said there were no readings of carbon monoxide in the house when they attended, but stressed the importance of having household carbon monoxide alarms.

Mr Bryce’s daughter, Claire, pointed out to the coroner that her father had attempted suicide in the past, but the coroner said he had to be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt to make any ruling on suicide.

The court also heard a statement from Mr Bryce’s GP, who said although Mr Bryce had experienced problems in his life and at times had felt isolated, there was no indication he was thinking of suicide.

The GP said Mr Bryce was “trying to put things in place” and was looking forward to being rehoused.

The coroner said he was satisfied Mr Bryce had died from carbon monoxide poisoning and that it was a “tragic accident”.

“Unfortunately this is not the first inquest where death has occurred by poisoning from carbon monoxide,” he said.

“If any positive can come from Jeremy’s death it is that people who read about this tragedy will understand and appreciate just how dangerous carbon monoxide really is. 

“People fail to understand just how odourless and tasteless carbon monoxide gas is and how potent it can be in a very, very short period of time.”