Thursday 19 September 2019

Irish pensioner tragically dies in London after mysteriously 'going up in flames'

Sister of John Nolan says: 'It looks very suspicious to me'

John Nolan, 70, who died after being found on fire in unexplained circumstances
John Nolan, 70, who died after being found on fire in unexplained circumstances Newsdesk Newsdesk

A family has paid tribute to an Irish pensioner who died after his clothes mysteriously caught fire while he was out for an afternoon walk.

John Nolan, originally from Swinford Co Mayo, had to be airlifted to hospital following the unexplained incident near his flat in north London on Sunday afternoon.

The 70-year-old suffered horrific third-degree burns to 65pc of his body and was "completely unrecognisable", his heartbroken sister told the Hampstead and Highgate Express.

Mary Caffrey described her brother as a "kind and gentle" man and is appealing for anyone with information about his death to come forward.

It is not yet known if the incident was an accident or a malicious attack.

"It’s unbearable, an awful thing to happen. It looks very suspicious to me," she said.

Orchard Place in London, where the tragic incident happened Photo: Google maps
Orchard Place in London, where the tragic incident happened Photo: Google maps

"We’re very concerned and would like to get to the bottom of what happened."

Mr Nolan moved to London in the late 1960s and worked in building for years.

In recent years he had been unwell and was being cared for by his brother Jimmy.

The family said Mr Nolan was due to watch the All-Ireland final between Dublin and Mayo with his brother.

He went out for a walk shortly after 11am and when his brother arrived at his flat in Tottenham, emergency services were on the scene.

Speaking to the Irish Post, Mr Nolan's nephew Kevin Byrne said the family want justice.

"We want justice for John and find out what happened to him. If it’s a terrible accident, fine, but if it’s malicious then we need to get to the bottom of it," he said.

Mr Byrne said that his uncle suffered a "terrible, painful" death.

Speaking on News at One on RTE Radio One, he said: "The police have been quite good, they've been communicating with us, we are getting information in drips and drabs, which is usually the nature of these things.

"Initially our first reaction was is this an accident or did someone do this to him? I don't know which is the greater horror.

"Either way he met a terrible end, quite a painful one and we've yet to identify how he ascertained his injuries, where the burns are, where they progressed.

"There are no witnesses who have said they saw anything untoward happening, he was seen a few minutes before just walking along as normal."

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "Police in Haringey were called to Williams House, Orchard Place N17 at 13:09hrs on Sunday, 17 September following reports of a fire.

"Officers, London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade attended and found a 70-year-old ablaze.

"The fire was quickly extinguished by LFB and the man was taken to a specialist hospital outside of London by London Air Ambulance with serious burn injuries. He has since died.

"Next of kin have been informed. The death is being treated as unexplained at this time.

"There are no other reported injuries.

"No arrests have been made. Enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed they are aware of Mr Nolan's death and are ready to provide consular assistance if requested.

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