Inquest begins into death of Northampton pensioner who died in New Year’s Day arson attack

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An inquest has begun into the death of a 75-year-old woman from Northampton who died following an arson attack at her home address on New Year’s Day six years ago.

Mavis Clift, formerly of Washington Street, Kingsthorpe, suffered severe smoke inhalation after the blaze in the early hours of January 1, 2008.

The prime suspect for the fire, which started after a lighter or match was dropped on petrol which had been poured through the letterbox, was Paul Barber, the estranged husband of Mrs Clift’s daughter Susan.

Susan Barber suffered severe burns as a result of the fire while her father, William, managed to escape serious injury after he exited through a window.

The inquest at County Hall, heard on Monday that Mr Barber, who died in March 2008, was arrested by Sussex Police at Beachy Head, hours after the fire.

The inquest was read a transcript of two telephone calls that Barber made to Northamptonshire Police during which he told an operator that he’s “done something awful” and said he “thought he had killed somebody”.

Barber was talked out of committing suicide at Beachy Head by Ross Hardy, a church minister.

The inquest is scheduled to last four weeks.