Death linked to possible ‘smoke inhalation’

A Masham man with a history of alcohol abuse may have inhaled smoke before he died.

An inquest at Richmond Town Hall was told the pensioner died of cirrhosis of the liver. It also heard the body of Harold Godsell, 68, was discovered at his home on Maple Creek, Red Lane, on February 12 by a care worker. The pensioner, who also suffered from heart disease, had been visited regularly by care workers at the sheltered accommodation.

Care worker Angela Greenwood, who was on duty that morning and was visiting Mr Godsell’s home, said she was overcome by an “awful toxic burning” smell coming from the kitchen upon entering his flat – later discovered to be the remains of a joint of meat in the oven.

She called the emergency services but Mr Godsell was pronounced dead at the scene.

Miss Greenwood told the inquest: “He was always drinking, he would say he wasn’t but he was. When he wasn’t drinking, he was a nice man, easy to get along with.”

In a police statement, a neighbour said he had noticed “a strong smell of burning” around teatime the previous day but assumed the smell was coming from a cooked meal and was not suspicious.

Firefighters said heat detectors at the property were in a “serviceable order”.

Coroner Rob Turnbull ruled Mr Godsell had died as a result of cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease and the possible effects of smoke inhalation.