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Landlord’s warnings that flat was ‘health hazard’ went ignored, inquest into woman’s death hears

PUBLISHED: 15:18 31 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:18 31 January 2020

Yasmin Siddiqi, 41, died in a flat fire in Rodney Road, Great Yarmouth. Picture: Zahid Verrier

Yasmin Siddiqi, 41, died in a flat fire in Rodney Road, Great Yarmouth. Picture: Zahid Verrier

Archant

A landlord’s warnings that a flat he was renting to a woman with a hoarding problem who later died in a fire was a health hazard went ignored, an inquest has heard.

From left, Yasmin's sister, Melissa Greenway, her brother Zahid Verrier and Miss Siddiqi. Picture: Zahid VerrierFrom left, Yasmin's sister, Melissa Greenway, her brother Zahid Verrier and Miss Siddiqi. Picture: Zahid Verrier

Yasmin Siddiqi, 41, died in a blaze at her basement flat on Rodney Road in Great Yarmouth on October 26, 2018.

The inquest has previously heard that she had suffered mental health problems since her teens and hoarded items in her flat which only weeks before her death was deemed high risk by the fire service.

Paul Cunningham, the flat's landlord, said he emailed social services and the Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust (NSFT) in late 2014 and early 2015, telling them the flat was "so cluttered it was a health hazard" and he was "surprised the agencies had allowed this to happen".

He also raised the issue with environmental health but their response was they had seen worse, according to Mr Cunningham.

"I had no contact from any agencies on the issue," the landlord said.

He said he employed a cleaning company to help Miss Siddiqi clear the flat but they had to give up after two days because she could not deal with the trauma of throwing away her possessions.

Grant Cotterall, station manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, carried out an inspection at the flat in September 2018.

He said there was evidence of hoarding in the living room and bedroom where a collection of soft toys was arranged on racks on the walls.

He advised Miss Siddiqi, who was a heavy smoker, if no change was made there was a risk of dying, the inquest heard.

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He said her response, that hoarding was a part of her life she could not change, was a clear indication she understood the risk.

Mr Cotterall also noted that in the Great Yarmouth area hoarding takes up 90pc of requests for fire safety checks, with referrals mostly coming from adult social services.

Emyr Gough, fire station manager at Great Yarmouth, said the fire which killed Miss Siddiqi started in the bedroom and was possibly caused by a discarded counterfeit cigarette.

The inquest has previously heard that Miss Siddiqi was a fun-loving and outgoing woman until a sexual assault when she was 15 years old.


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