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News - Politics

Barrister who hoarded papers died when they set alight on hob and burned down luxury flat, inquest hears

A barrister who hoarded papers died when they set alight on his hob and burned down his luxury flat, an inquest has heard.

A barrister who hoarded papers died when they set alight on his hob and burned down his luxury flat, an inquest has heard. 

Ian Paton, 66, died of smoke inhalation after his £1.2million apartment by the Thames was engulfed by flames just before Christmas last year.

His ex-wife, who described him as "notoriously untidy" and an "incorrigible hoarder", said he was due to give in his notice to retire on New Year's Eve.

The blaze broke out after the lawyer left papers on his halogen hob, which was turned on, caught fire and fell onto a box of files on the floor then spread.

Ian Paton died in a fire at his house on December 20 2016

A concierge, who was outside smoking, smelt burning and raised the alarm just after 5.30pm, and four fire engines arrived and residents were evacuated.

Firefighters broke down the door and found the lifeless body of Mr Paton on the bedroom floor on December 20 last year.

The father-of-one was pronounced dead at the scene at Luna House in Bermondsey, south east London just after 7pm.

He was one-and-a-half times the drink drive limit, and had heart disease, the inquest was told.

A member of QEB Hollis Whiteman Chambers, Mr Paton had worked for more than 40 years as a barrister, and sat as a crown court recorder for 20 years.

He was an incorrigible hoarder, and found uses for things that most people would throw away as junk.Elizabeth Paton

In a statement, his ex-wife Elizabeth Paton explained how Mr Paton was planning to retire so they could enjoy their "golden years" together.

She said: "He was much liked and well respected.

"He was notoriously untidy. He was by far the most untidy person that most ever met. He had a double sized room in chambers.

"He was an avid reader of news. He was an incorrigible hoarder, and found uses for things that most people would throw away as junk.

"It would be entirely usual for Ian to store old newspapers and magazines.

"He kept long, irregular and erratic hours at chambers. It would be entirely usual for Ian to work through the night. After court he would often get home and crash out with tiredness, before getting up late.

"His flat was too much of a mess to be conducive to work, and chambers was nearby."

Mrs Paton continued: "Ian's death in itself is a terrible tragedy. But it's made even more unbearable by the fact we as a family were on the brink of a new future together. Ian had decided to retire.

"He was going to give notice of his retirement to chambers on the 31st of December 2016. And he was going to work through his notice period until Spring of this year, working on cases that particularly interested him.

He was optimistic and very much looking forward to what we thought would be our golden years together.Elizabeth Paton

"Since our divorce five years ago, we had become reconciled, and we had again become close.

"He was going to move to Wiltshire to be nearer to my daughter and me.

"He was optimistic and very much looking forward to what we thought would be our golden years together.

"Ian's tragic death coming when it did has robbed him of so much anticipated and planned happiness."

A post-mortem gave the cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation from a house fire, with ischaemic heart disease as a secondary part.

Assistant Coroner Shanta Deonarine recorded a verdict of accidental death

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