James Kirkby

An inquest has found that a “Loving” and “Devoted” father took his own life by causing a gas explosion.

James Kirkby, 48, was found dead at the top of a pile of rubble after causing a gas explosion in his home in King Arthurs Way, the coroner said that Mr Kirkby was at the time, facing mental health issues.

A multitude of emergency services were called to the scene in King Arthurs Way in the early hours of 27th December 2018, to reports of an explosion.

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An inquest into Mr Kirkby’s death today, Tuesday, 18th June 2019, at Winchester Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Kirkby had cut through a pipe feeding to a boiler using a hacksaw blade before lighting a cigarette to cause the explosion.

The investigation heard the 48-year-old had suffered from a history of depression an alcohol dependency.

Selina Kirkby, the sister of Mr Kirkby told the inquest, “I was very worried about him and his mental health. James had started drinking a lot of alcohol in the months leading up to his death. He was unable to work as a taxi driver due to his drinking and mental health. He was struggling to cope with life.”

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The inquest was told that on one occasion he said to his mother that he was “going to go and not come back”.

Months before the 48-year-olds death he had several appointments at Andover’s St Mary’s Surgery to discuss his mental health and his anti-depressant prescription.

On Christmas Day of 2018, two days before the explosion, Mr Kirkby had been to Miss Coomb’s house where he danced and laughed with her three children, and on Boxing Day he had been to see friend Neil Allen.

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On the same day Mr Kirkby had found out that his friend Simon Mace, and Jasmin’s mother’s partner, had died in a hospice. In the early hours of 27th December 2018, he had called Coleen Coombs, and was said to be “babbling” but he did not seem intoxicated, the inquest heard.

The inquest also heard that he texted Jasmin saying: “Goodbye Jasmin, you need to be there for your mum this minute or don’t bother.”

Phil North, Leader of Test Valley Borough Council said in a social media post; “At today’s inquest, it was confirmed that the explosion was started deliberately, albeit in the most tragic of circumstances.

It is important to share this information so residents are reassured that this wasn’t down to poor maintenance or negligence on behalf of the housing provider.

Whilst I don’t condone the behaviour of the deceased – whose actions could well have caused significant harm to innocent people – it is clear that he was a severely unwell individual who took the tragic decision to end his own life.”