Torment of husband who died in flames

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A 67-year-old Swineshead man set himself alight ‘as a statement’ for years of torment from a wife who had never forgiven him for an affair.

The shocking revelation came during the inquest of Alan Thorne, whose badly burned body was found in his garden at Tarry Hill House in Tarry Hill on August 26 last year.

Mr Thorne died as the result of 80 per cent burns to his body and the inhalation of products of combustion.

Coroner Professor Robert Forrest said he had intended recording an open verdict, but the new evidence had changed this to suicide while the balance of Mr Thorne’s mind was disturbed.

Keiron Davey, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue investigation officer, said evidence indicated Mr Thorne had covered himself with petrol on the garden bench.

He said: “There was some rolled up paper attached to him, which could have been used as a taper. He would have been on fire when he had gone towards the house and fallen.”

In a 16-page statement from Mr Thorne’s wife, Angela, she said she had suffered depression for a large part of the couple’s 46-year marriage.

However, she said that it wasn’t until she finally got the treatment she needed that Mr Thorne accepted the situation was as serious as it was.

Five years ago, they moved from Somerset to Swineshead to be closer to family. But the house had a catalogue of problems which made Mr Thorne “very down”.

In addition, his two dogs had also died – one suddenly and the other, which was very sick, was put down after someone accused him of being cruel for taking it out for a walk.

Mrs Thorne said: “Alan was very upset about what was said and checked with the vet that it was OK to go out for a walk. Eventually we made the decision to have to dog put down. It affected us very much. Walking his dogs was a big part of his day.”

On the day of her husband’s death, she said he had gone for a walk at 3pm – the same time he used to take the dogs out – and she had gone upstairs to sort some boxes.

She said: “He hadn’t let me know he was back and I decided to go outside and have a cigarette. I opened the door and saw Alan laid down with small flames on his neck.

“I grabbed a watering can to put water on Alan’s neck and called 999. I said ‘my husband’s on fire’ – I was screaming for a neighbour to come and help.

“I went and sat in the house - I didn’t want to go in the garden. I don’t think I ever want to go in the garden again.

“I knew Alan was depressed, but he had given me no clue he was so unhappy.”

During the statement, her daughter Joanne indicated by her expression that she did not agree with parts of her mother’s account of their life together.

She said: “My parents moved up here because my mother had been stalking a woman he had an affair with. It was just convenient.

“My mother never forgave him and she made our lives a misery. He had many friends in Somerset – his life was destroyed coming up here.

“I believe he was depressed and, yes, he would have been sad about his dogs. But not this – I believe what he did was a statement to her.”