OAP set alight by his own cigarette: Brian Weaver suffered fatal burns at Berryhill Retirement Village
A MUCH-LOVED retirement home resident died after accidentally setting himself alight with a cigarette.
Brian Weaver, who had been a heavy smoker for most of his life, suffered fatal burns in the fire at his flat in Berryhill Retirement Village.
Staff battled to save the 67-year-old's life by smothering him with towels, but Mr Weaver died in hospital less than an hour later.
An inquest into the death at Hartshill heard how Mr Weaver, a former mechanic, had been living at the retirement village for two years.
The father-of-two had suffered from alcoholism for many years, but his sister Carol Law said he had succeeded in bringing this under control after moving to Berryhill.
On the evening of March 5 last year he had gone for a drink in the village bar, before returning to his flat.
Yesterday's inquest heard he had only drunk two halves of beer and a double whisky, and toxicology tests confirmed he had not been drunk. At around 10pm the smoke alarm in Mr Weaver's flat was activated, and staff rushed to see what was happening.
Support worker Mary Woolley arrived to find the pensioner walking out of his flat, fully alight.
She asked him what had happened but he told her that he did not know.
Mr Weaver was put on the floor, and towels and quilts were used to put out the fire, with the emergency services arriving soon afterwards.
A fire service investigation found that the seat of the fire had been Mr Weaver's settee, and officers concluded that it had been started by a stray cigarette.
Ms Woolley, who had visited Mr Weaver earlier in the day, said she had noticed numerous cigarette burns on the settee.
Village manager Christine Clayton told the inquest that staff had never had any problems with Mr Weaver before the incident.
She said: "Brian was an individual, he was a character. But he was really well-liked because he was a gentlemen.
"We never had any problems with him. I don't think anyone would have been aware that he'd had problems in the past.
"Everyone at Berryhill embraced Brian, and he was able to rediscover things like dancing, which he used to do when he was younger. He is sadly missed."
Mrs Law said her brother had been married with two children, only to lose his family because of his alcoholism.
But following the inquest, she paid tribute to Mr Weaver, saying he had managed to turn his life around.
She said: "Brian was a well-known character in Stoke-on-Trent. Although he'd had a difficult life he was a caring person. He'd do what he could to help others if he had the opportunity.
"I can't thank Berryhill Village enough for what they did for Brian. They really did give him a new lease of life. It's just sad that it didn't last long enough."
North Staffordshire Deputy Coroner Anthony Curzon recorded a verdict of accidental death.