'Hazardous substance' death in Cullompton - neighbour speaks out

Police at the scene of the death in Cullompton, Devon. Credit: Devon Live

A resident in a Devon town has described the moment they were told to evacuate after a man was found dead in a house.

Four people were told to leave their homes in Cullompton on 17 November after emergency services found a man dead in a property.

The man, who was aged in his 40s, is believed to have died as a result of a “hazardous substance”.

The neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, praised police for their swift actions on the day.

Police have said the likely cause of death was a 'hazardous substance'. Credit: Devon Live

"I heard somebody shouting to call the emergency services and they were here within 10 minutes," they said.

"Within another 10 minutes, we had incident control and people with hazardous Novichok-style suits on.

"They were doing their job in a very professional manner and we felt safe. They were searching all the drains to make sure it was safe.

At about 12pm, they asked us to leave the house. My wife and I went to a hotel for about an hour and Mid Devon District Council made arrangements to put us overnight in a hotel in Tiverton. Then at about 7pm police told us we could come back home as it was all safe. It is a very sad and unfortunate incident but it’s happened and was dealt with in the right manner.


Police remained at the scene overnight, while a number of nearby properties were cordoned off.

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A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said a “hazardous substance” was the likely cause of death - though it is not being treated as suspicious.

‘Rare and unique circumstances’

“Safeguarding against contamination has been paramount,” the spokesperson said.

Four people had to be evacuated from their homes as a result of the incident. Credit: Devon Live

"The scene was contained in a joint effort by police and fire crews and a road closure was implemented.

''All emergency services – police, ambulance and fire personnel – were active in assessing the risks and responding with the appropriate measures to collectively manage the scene.

"This incident posed rare and unique circumstances and the response reflected the expertise and professionalism of all involved.

''His death is not being treated as suspicious at this time and his next-of-kin have been informed."

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