An EXPERT stonemason died after a chip pan caught fire at his caravan, leading to him receiving nearly 30 per cent burns to his body.

Derick Raymond Bevan died at Morriston Hospital in Swansea on June 12 this year, several weeks after the fire at a remote property near Crickhowell where he lived.

Pontypridd Coroner’s Court heard on Friday, October 16, that Mr Bevan, 78, likely fell asleep after consuming half a bottle of rum while the chip pan was on, and which eventually caught fire. Coroner Tom Atherton recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The alarm had been raised on May 19 by a neighbour of Mr Bevan’s who had seen black smoke rising from the barn in which his caravan was situated at a farm belonging to Norma Ralph, whose late husband Ted had been friends since school with Mr Bevan.

Neighbour Ian Husband described the fire as “roaring” and upon inspection could see there were propane bottles in the barn around the caravan.

Mrs Ralph said in a statement that Mr Bevan had moved onto the property 15 years ago in order help her and her husband build a house, and that he was renowned as an expert stonemason. When her husband died in a road crash in 2005 she had allowed Mr Bevan to remain living at the property rent free. Her statement revealed that on the day of the fire he went into town shopping. Mrs Ralph said: “I’d interacted with him when he got back then went inside to make tea. Ian then came round and said there was a fire, I thought ‘Derick’s in there’. I knew he’d had a drink as I could smell it when I spoke to him.”

Mr Bevan was rescued by two firefighters, having seemingly tried to put out the fire by pouring water on it. He was transferred to hospital where he was cared for by plastic surgeon Dr John Gibson, who said he’d received burns to 27.5 per cent of his body, including his face, back and arms.

Dr Gibson said Mr Bevan was admitted to the burns and intensive care unit in Swansea and was placed into a medical coma. He required organ care before further treatment was eventually deemed futile due to multi-organ failure he’d suffered after contracting sepsis following an operation on his burns.

Mr Atherton read out a statement from Mr Bevan’s daughter Ceri who had spoken to her father twice on the day of the fire. She described her dad as “a bit of a drinker” and revealed he may have suffered with depression and that he’d never gotten over the end of the relationship with his wife.

Delivering his verdict of accidental death, Mr Atherton said: “It appears as if Mr Bevan cooked some chips, drank half a bottle of rum and had fallen asleep with the chip pan on, which caught fire.

“He poured water on it and suffered 27.5 per cent burns. While in hospital he developed sepsis leading to multi-organ failure.”