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Heartbroken daughter started fire after mother's death

PUBLISHED: 14:05 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:12 11 February 2020

Emergency services at the scene after the explosion at the bunglaow in Lidgate in May 2019. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Emergency services at the scene after the explosion at the bunglaow in Lidgate in May 2019. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A reclusive Suffolk woman set fire to her home then lay down on a bed next to her mother who had died, an inquest heard.

Emergency services in the aftermath of the explosion at the bungalow in Lidgate. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEmergency services in the aftermath of the explosion at the bungalow in Lidgate. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The bodies of Julie Tierney, aged 50, and her 78-year-old mother Pamela Tierney were found in the debris of their four-bedroomed home in The Street, Lidgate, near Newmarket, following an explosion that had been sparked by the flames on May 7 last year.

Pamela Tierney, a former council administrative officer, had been receiving end of life treatment for terminal cancer and was being cared for by Julie Tierney.

An inquest in Ipswich heard both women had to be identified by dental records as a result of the blast.

Station Commander Conrad Burgess, of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said the blast destroyed the bungalow and shook nearby properties.

Emergency services at the scene following the incident at the bunglalow in Lidgate  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEmergency services at the scene following the incident at the bunglalow in Lidgate Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The remains of the bungalow were so unstable a drone was used to survey it, which led to the discovery of the bodies in a bedroom.

Detective Inspector Tam Burgess of Suffolk police said Mrs Tierney was found in bed and her daughter was next to her.

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Det Insp Burgess said a letter had been received by Julie Tierney's sister in Norfolk stating that Pamela Tierney had died. Handwriting analysis had concluded it had been written by Julie Tierney.

She said investigations had established the Tierneys were reclusive, but there was nothing to suggest any third party involvement.

Forensic pathologist Dr Nathaniel Carey said Pamela Tierney had died from cancer while Julie Tierney, who had been treated for mental health issues in 2002 and 2012, died from the effects of fire and fumes.

Suffolk coroner Nigel Parsley recorded a narrative conclusion that Pamela Tierney had died two days before the explosion from cancer and that her death was as a result of the natural progression of her illness and end of life treatment.

In the case of Julie Tierney, he concluded she died as a result of suicide after spreading propellant around the house.

"Julie must have intended that act," he said.

"I think the most compelling piece of evidence is that when the fire was set Julie went and lay down next to her mum. That gives me clear evidence that Julie intended her death."

Mr Parsley paid tribute to the way the family had dealt with the tragedy during the investigation.

"This must have been very difficult but the family have been incredibly dignified throughout this entire process," he said.

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