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Elderly couple’s cooker tragedy

An elderly couple who replaced their gas oven with an electric appliance for safety reasons were overcome by heat after accidentally leaving the electric hob on.

Pensioners Raymond and Doreen Elsom died after forgetting to turn off all four rings on the new electric cooker. The central heating was also turned on in their home in the west of Leeds.

Weeks earlier their son Darren had purchased the electric cooker after finding Mr Elsom slumped over a gas oven with all four hobs turned on and none lit. The electric cooker was installed to prevent the blunder happening again.

Coroner David Hinchliff said swapping over the cooker was “entirely the right thing to do”. He added: “The chances of the gas being a problem was far greater.”

Pathologist Peter Vanezis confirmed the pensioners died from hyperthermia overheating in temperatures hitting 48 deg C. He said it was the first time he had come across such a case.
A postmortem revealed they had signs of heart disease, making it impossible to cope with the intense temperature.

In a statement Darren Elsom said he arrived at his parents’ home on May 8 last year opened the living room door and felt intense heat.

“The heat was so intense and the rings on the cooker were bright red. It was like an inferno,” he said.

Leeds Coroner’s Court heard Doreen Elsom, 70, and her husband, 74, were struggling to care for themselves.

Darren Elsom had previously contacted social services and the couple’s GP with his concerns for their health and safety.

However, the couple had turned down offers of help from the local authority, dismissing suggestions that they were struggling to care for themselves properly.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded by the coroner.