'Several calls made to gas supplier' before woman killed in Kingstanding explosion, inquest hears

Collage image of Doreen Mace and the blast which claimed her life
Doreen Mace was killed after a gas explosion at her home in June 2022 Credit: ITV News Central

A jury in the inquest into the death of a grandmother, who died in a house explosion in Birmingham, has been told several calls were made to the gas supplier before the blast. The coroner said 79-year-old Doreen Mace would have died almost instantly in the explosion on Dulwich Road, in Kingstanding, last June.  The homeowner, Doreen’s partner David Murphy, reported having problems with the gas supply just half an hour before the explosion.

Audio records show they were told a gas engineer would be there within the hour and not to use any ignition.

The initial investigation isolated the likely cause to an "accidental and inadvertent ignition of a large escape of gas from a joint in the pipework" of the house.

The most likely cause of death is believed to be was ‘gas escaping from a pipe underneath the lounge floor’ - where Doreen is thought to have been at the time of the explosion.

Fighting back tears, Doreen’s granddaughter, Samantha O’Brien described her as having a personality of someone half her age.Samantha said: “She was caring, energetic and fun loving with an infectious smile."

“Nan loved dancing and singing karaoke”She said Doreen was always looking out to help and support people and was devoted to her family.

The inquest will take place in front of a jury at Birmingham Coroner's Court and is expected to last up to two days.

Doreen's partner, David Murphy, was rescued by a neighbour, who saw his hand sticking out from under the rubble after the explosion.

Harley Seccombe heard the blast from down the road in Dulwich Road, in Kingstanding, on 26 June.

Harley ran down the street and saw smoke and checked around the back of the houses to see if there was anyone there and heard someone shouting. He said he "acted on instinct".

Harley said: "So I hopped over a fence and saw this hand sticking out of the rubble and I had to, I shouted for more help.

"A few more people arrived after that but we just started digging him out of the rubble and we managed to save him, as the fire was getting closer and closer and we managed to get him out of the building onto a mattress and out to the front of the house."

Four homes were later demolished as a safety precaution, following the explosion.