REMITTANCE MANS DEATH.
BURNED IN HIS BED. SUBJECT TO FITS. An inquiry was held by Mr T. Gresham at the Coroner's Court this morning, into the circumstances connected with the death of William Smith, the victim of the fire in a boardinghouse in Hobson Street early yesterday morning. Senior Sergeant Dart represented the police. Allan Morton, hairdresser and tobacconist, said he had known Smith over 10 years. Deceased was 57 years of age. and a widower. He was also a remittance man. Smith had lived in that house a little under a year. He was a .heavy drinker, and was also subject to epileptic fits. Smith often went to sleep leaving his candle burning. Between 4 and 5 o'clock yesterday morning witness got up, and going into the passage found it full of smoke. He saw that the lire was in Smith's bedroom. Smith was calling, "Allan! Allan!" at the top ot his voice. Witness went into the bedroom and caught Smith by the right arm. A portion of the mattress was burned away, and witness could see right through the wire to the floor. Smith was then lying on the broad of his back on the bed. Witness tried to lift him, but could not do so. Witness was in night attire at the time. Finding he could not shift the man, he twice got water from the bathroom to try and extinguish the flames, but was ultimately driven out by the heat and the smoke. It was the "side oi the bed where the candle usually stood that was on fire. Deceased was the subject of a prohibition order for about a month or sirs weeks.
Mrs Morton, wife of last witness, stated she saw deceased alive on Sunday nioht at 11.30 o'clock. He was in bed, with the candle alight. She told him to put out the light, which he did. He received his last remittance on Wednesday from the Bank. She had frequently seen him the worse for liquor. Deceased was sober since Wednesday. She gave him the drinks of whisky and water on Sunday as medicine. Smith seemed in quite good spirits, and Said, "How much am I in your debt, Mrs Morton?" Deceased was a smoker. He told her he used to get up and smoke when he could not sleep. T_._i In answer to Senior Sergeant I>art, witness said, Mr Smith had not been out of the house for a day or two. He looked very white on the Sunday, and she gave him a little whisky and water to try and avert a fit. She only gave that as medicine. He came home drunk on the Wednesday he got his remittance. On Thursday he had no drink at all. Dr. C. E. H. Coldicutt, who had inspected the body of deceased, expressed the opinion that death did not take place until after the man had been partially burned alive.
Deputy Superintendent iW. L. Wilson, of the Auckland Fire Brigade, in giving evidence, said there was a little delay in getting on the water owing to the carelessness of some street workmen having covered up the fire plug. It would be in the public interest if the jury would draw attention to the danger arising- from such carelessness. The Coroner said it was just as well this was brought, out., as the City Council had a way of saying that everything was all right. In summing up to the jury the Coroner pointed out that the fire was evidently accidental, and that the last time deceased was seen alive, though not drunk, he was suffering a reooverv.
The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony, adding that he came to his death accidentally and by misadventure.