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Mother 'drunk' as brothers died in Eastbourne home

  • 10-18-2011

Two brothers died in their Sussex home when a fire broke out in a den they had created while their mother was drunk, an inquest has heard.

Lewis Jenkins, 7, and his brother Taylor, 5, died from smoke inhalation in the house in Milfoil Drive, Eastbourne on 4 October 2008.

A lighter and candles were found where the fire had started at 15:00 BST.

The court heard their mother was one-and-a-half times over the legal drink-drive limit at 16:30 BST.

The brothers lived with their mother, Denise Goldsmith, who had spilt from their father, Stewart Jenkins, who is in prison.

Toxicologist Ian Humphreys told the inquest at Eastbourne Magistrates' Court calculations suggested Ms Goldsmith would have been around four-and-a-half times the legal limit at 02:30 BST that day.

He said that such a level would lead to "extreme drunkenness" affecting balance, co-ordination and speech.

Ms Goldsmith's friend, Victoria Quirke said: "When Stewart [Jenkins] went to prison, Denise hit rock bottom and started drinking a lot more. She couldn't handle the boys, so she turned to drink."

The court was told that Lewis and Taylor had little routine at home and went to bed whenever they wanted, even when they had school the next day.

Ms Goldsmith, 29, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and child neglect five days after the fire but the decision was taken not to prosecute her.

'Human act'

The family's GP, Simon Eyre, said both boys were fit and healthy and he had seen no evidence of any physical neglect.

The inquest heard the fire would have taken just a "few minutes" to take hold under the stairs.

Emma Wilson, an investigator with the Forensic Science Service, said: "The burning to the stairs and the banisters indicated the worst area of burning wasn't at the very back of the area but was actually near the entrance of it."

She said that that the fire started as a result of a "human act" and the boys would have had to have headed towards the fire to escape.

The hearing continues.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2011 BBC

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