Police taser ‘most likely’ cause of fire that killed petrol-soaked man

Andrew Pimlott died five days after PC Peter Hodgkinson fired the taser

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The Independent Online

A 50,000-volt police Taser was the “most likely” cause of a petrol-soaked man catching fire and dying, an inquest jury has ruled.

Andrew Pimlott, 32, poured the fuel over himself in the back garden of his parents’ house and was engulfed in flames as PC Peter Hodgkinson fired the taser on April 18 2013.

PC Hodgkinson and PC David Beer had answered a 999 call from Pimlott’s father, Kelvin, reporting that his son was carrying a jerry can of petrol, may have a lighter and was in breach of a restraining order imposed by magistrates.

Just 41 seconds after the two officers arrived at the house in Honicknowle, Plymouth, Pimlott caught fire – dying five days later in hospital from severe burns.

The experienced officers told the inquest that when Pimlott was standing, soaked in petrol and with a lit match in his hand, they had no other choice but to shoot him with the Taser X26 in an attempt to save his life.

However, in a narrative conclusion, the jurors said they had decided “we don’t know” whether he was holding a flame or not, although he was in possession of matches. We believe the Taser was the most likely source of ignition,” they said. “We believe that an exchange of words indicating ‘Put it down’ was said before the Taser was discharged. We don’t know how soon after the Taser was discharged.”

The jury said PC Hodgkinson’s actions were “in accordance” with his training. He was cleared of gross misconduct following an internal disciplinary hearing earlier this year.