Kingstanding house explosion inquest finds Doreen Mace's death was accidental
The jury in the inquest into the death of a woman who died when a house exploded, 30 minutes after a gas leak was reported, has ruled that her death was accidental.
Doreen Mace, 79, died, and her partner David Murphy was severely injured in the explosion in the Kingstanding area of Birmingham in June last year.
Jurors delivered their conclusions after deliberating for just under two hours.
They found Ms Mace's cause of death was from "consequences of an explosion that caused a house to collapse".
They said the circumstances were as a result of "a gas explosion at 129 Dulwich Road on June 26 2022, at around 8.38pm, which caused a house to collapse onto the deceased, who was in the lounge area".
The inquest heard on its first day (Monday 16 January) that several calls had been made to the gas supplier before the explosion by Mr Murphy and that the final call ended just 30 minutes before the house was reduced to rubble.
Four other houses were also later demolished for safety reasons.
He reported he could smell "what he thought was gas", his hob was no longer working, and the meter was "making a noise".
Audio records show the couple 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 ‘gas escaping from a pipe underneath the lounge floor’ - where Doreen is thought to have been at the time of the explosion.
On Monday morning, the inquest’s 11-member jury was shown an image of a “gas pipe separation under (the) floor of (the) living room”, which is suspected of being at the heart of the explosion.
The blast was so violent that it sent roof tiles through the windows of a leisure centre 114ft (35m) away.
The body of Ms Mace was recovered under 3ft (1m) of rubble from the lounge at the front of the property.
Mr Murphy was rescued from the rubble of the kitchen - where he had been shielded by a fridge - by members of the public, who carried him away using a mattress.
Doreen Mace, a great-grandmother, was a retired pub landlady described by her relatives as a “once-in-a-lifetime soul”.
Her granddaughter Samantha O'Brien described her as "a caring, energetic and fun-loving lady with such an infectious smile", who was "devoted to her family".
"At time of her passing, Nan was 79 years young, still with a determination, vigour for life, on par with a person half her age," she said.
She added her grandmother had been planning a holiday with her partner, andsaid: "She was and always will be our matriarch and a once-in-a-lifetime soulwe are grateful to have known."