Mother 'scalded as she slept'

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The Independent Online

A mother-of-two died after scalding water poured out of a water tank through a ceiling and on to her bed as she slept, an inquest heard yesterday.

Sharon Minister, 30, was admitted to hospital with 45 per cent burns after the accident at her housing-authority owned home in Penzance, Cornwall, in May last year. She died from her injuries nine days later.

Her partner, Mark Nicholas, 27, who was sleeping next to her, suffered severe burns to his face and body and needed a skin graft to his foot.

Ms Minister's children, Jessica, nine, and Victoria, six, were in the house at the time but were unharmed.

David Pritchard, principal scientist with the Health and Safety Executive, told the inquest in Helston, Cornwall, that a faulty thermostat meant the hot water tank was able to reach boiling point instead of stabilising at 60C. The hot water then flowed into the cold water tank in the loft until that too was filled with boiling water.