Debt ridden IT worker Ian Lowrie set fire to himself inquest told
A debt-ridden IT worker who tied himself to a fence and set himself on fire may have had a last minute change of heart, a coroner ruled today.
For as the flames took hold of Ian Lowrie, 50, he screamed 'Help me, help me, I'm on fire.'
Deputy Gloucestershire coroner David Dooley ruled that although Mr Lowrie had clearly intended to commit suicide by pouring petrol over himself and setting it alight he may then have changed his mind - but too late to save himself.
The coroner recorded an open verdict on Mr Lowrie, whose home in Arrowsmith Road, Stonehouse, near Stroud, Glos, had been re-possessed two months earlier because of mortgage arrears.
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At the time of his death he was living in bed and breakfast accommodation at the Little Thatch guest house in Bristol Road, Quedgeley.
The Gloucester inquest was told Mr Lowrie and his wife Lenka had split up three years earlier but remained on amicable terms.
Not long before his death he had told her he had arrears of between £150-200,000 on the house as well as another debt of £50,000.
In a statement, Mrs Kay Correia said she was walking her dog in the area of the Cotswold Living store in Bristol road at about 8.15pm on May 19 this year when she heard a man shouting from behind a fence.
"The voice called 'Help me, help me, I'm on fire,' she said.
"After that I heard loud screams. It was difficult to see what was going on because it was behind a fence but I could see flames."
She said she went to some women leaving the nearby veterinary surgery and they dialled 999. Her husband Rod tried to pull down the fence to get to the fire but could not move it.
There was then a loud explosion and she called him back to her.
By the time police and paramedics got to Mr Lowrie his body had been incinerated, the inquest heard.
Mr Lowrie's estranged wife said in a statement that as well as the mortgage arrears which led to reposession of the house in March he also had debts to bank and credit card companies.
"His whole life revolved around computers and computer games," she said
The deputy coroner said "Mr Lowrie was a rather isolated individual, referred to as a loner, whose life revolved around computers in his work and computer games.
"He had become depressed and started drinking heavily following repossession of his house and the fact he had large debts outstanding.
"He clearly had little or nothing to look forward to. His marriage had foundered, he had lost his home, and he had debts at a serious level."
The evidence showed a deliberate intent to kill himself but he appeared to have realised he might lose his nerve and had therefore tied himself to the fence, the coroner said
"I think it is clear that initially he had the necessary suicidal intent but then he shouted for help, which confirmed a change of mind. Does this last second change of mind affect a verdict of suicide being recorded? The answer is yes, it does."
For a suicide verdict he would have to be satisfied Mr Lowrie had a settled intent to follow it through without a change of mind, he said,