Mother’s fire death was a ‘tragic accident’

The aftermath of the fire in which Joanne Jasper died
The aftermath of the fire in which Joanne Jasper died
  • Firefighters called to Woodsedge at 10.43am on September 7, 2015
  • Mother found dead in house
  • Investigation showed dropped cigarette on sofa likely cause of fire
  • Coroner rules death was an accident
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A FIRE which claimed the life of a mum-of-five began accidently when she dropped a lit cigarette on a sofa, a coroner has ruled.

Joanne Jasper, 36, died at her home in Woodsedge, Waterlooville, on September 7 last year.

Joanne Jasper

Joanne Jasper

Passers-by noticed smoke and flames coming from the living room window at the front of the house at 10.43am.

Firefighters were at the house within minutes and found Mrs Jasper alone in the living room.

She was already dead.

At the inquest into her death yesterday David Lock, fire investigator at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said he had ruled out several possibilities, including foul play by a third party, that Mrs Jasper deliberately started the fire, and that an electrical wiring fault was to blame.

Her boys were her life

Maria Jones

Empty alcohol bottles, cigarette packets and anti-depressant medication packets were found around the house.

Coroner David Horsley heard Mrs Jasper had suffered from depression for many years and also struggled with alcohol dependency. Her mother Maria Jones said that although her daughter could go weeks without drinking she would start again if she became low.

Even though she had sought help with her problem a custody battle over her children had hit her hard.

On the day she died, Mrs Jasper had been speaking to her sister over Facebook until 5am and sent her another message at 10.06am.

Mrs Jones, who was supported by other family members at the inquest in Portsmouth’s Civic Offices, said she had spoken to her daughter on her birthday, September 5, and she had appeared ‘quite jovial’ and had not been drinking.

But she said she had struggled with depression since a custody court hearing in the summer.

Mrs Jones added: ‘She went to court to get her kids and they said no. They said she could have them back and then out of the blue they said no. Her boys were her life.’

A postmortem revealed Mrs Jasper was four-and a half times he drink driving limit when she died.

Following an investigation Mr Lock concluded the fire started accidently on the sofa.

He said when a lit cigarette is dropped it can either immediately go up in flames or slowly smoulder.

Mr Lock said: ‘The cause of the fire seems to be the result of a carelessly discarded cigarette.’

Mr Horsley said it was clear that due to the amount of alcohol Mrs Jasper had drunk, she was not aware she had dropped the cigarette.

He added: ‘She may have been asleep or distracted and not realised.

‘Once she did realise the fire had taken hold and because of the smoke she became disorientated and collapsed.’

Mr Horsley said she also had high levels of carbon monoxide in her blood which, mixed with the high levels of alcohol, caused toxicity.

‘All this suggests most likely a tragic accident.’