Hero doctor of 7/7 Aldgate bombing died asleep in blaze at home while drunk, inquest told

PUBLISHED: 14:33 23 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:37 24 August 2016

Dr Claire Sheppey and her burned-out top-floor flat in north London

Dr Claire Sheppey and her burned-out top-floor flat in north London


A hero doctor from the 2005 Aldgate terrorist Underground train bombing 11 years ago died after discarding a cigarette in a plastic bag causing a fire in her top-floor flat, an inquest heard today.

Tragedy the night Dr Sheppey's flat was ablaze while she sleptTragedy the night Dr Sheppey's flat was ablaze while she slept

Dr Claire Sheppey, a member of the Royal London Hospital response team during the 7/7 emergency, had been drinking and fell asleep and was never aware of the fire that broke out at home in north London in March, St Pancras Coroner’s Court was told.

She had no working smoke alarm in her second floor flat near Highbury.

The fire began smouldering in her living room two hours before flames emerged, with toxic fumes seeping into her bedroom.

Dr Sheppey, a consultant paediatric anaesthetist, died aged 47 from carbon monoxide poisoning, the inquest heard.

She was found unconscious by fire rescue crews and was rushed to Royal London in Whitechapel—the very hospital where she had worked since 2004—but died.

Fire Brigade investigator Dean Wilkinson told the inquest: “Around the sofa bed were plastic bags with cigarette butts and empty packets.

“This caused the fire, slow and smouldering, which developed into flames with very heavy smoke—you wouldn’t have been able to see your hand in front of your face.”

It took two hours to grow into a full blaze, he estimated.

Dr Sheppey, who suffered no skin burns, had 193 milligrams of alcohol per decilitre of blood, almost double what is defined as “drunkenness”, the hearing was told.

Coroner Mary Hassell, who concluded accidental death, said: “Dr Sheppey didn’t discard the cigarette properly before going to bed.

“A very slow, smouldering fire began and the fumes would have been very toxic. She fell asleep and was never aware of the fire.”

The coroner also warned: “It’s important for public safety to understand that no smoke detection (alarm) was a factor.”

Dr Sheppey was one of the first responding to the 7/7 bombings in July, 2005, handling an influx of badly injured passengers from a wrecked Circle Line train in the tunnel at Aldgate.

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