Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Staff at Chingford home where woman died give 'contradictory' evidence

Attempts are still being made to get a third staff member to give evidence

Hero for Staff at Chingford home where woman died give 'contradictory' evidence
Ashlie Timms (inset) and the fire in 2018 (courtesy of family/@LAS_HART)
By Nadoya Reid 30 March 2022

Staff working at a Chingford home for disabled adults the night a resident died in a fire gave “contradictory” evidence at her inquest this week.Staff working at a Chingford home for disabled adults the night a resident died in a fire gave “contradictory” evidence at her inquest this week.

In April 2018, 46-year-old Ashlie Timms, who lived at 2B Connington Court in Connington Crescent, died after a fire started in her room, allegedly caused by an electrical fault.In April 2018, 46-year-old Ashlie Timms, who lived at 2B Connington Court in Connington Crescent, died after a fire started in her room, allegedly caused by an electrical fault.

It took 72 firefighters more than three hours to bring the fire under control. All eight other residents and the four staff members working that night escaped.It took 72 firefighters more than three hours to bring the fire under control. All eight other residents and the four staff members working that night escaped.

At her inquest, which finally began on 21st March, a jury heard accounts of that night from two of the four people working, although efforts are being made to get a third to give evidence.At her inquest, which finally began on 21st March, a jury heard accounts of that night from two of the four people working, although efforts are being made to get a third to give evidence.

The home is run by Sequence Care and split into two halves: 2A and 2B, where Ashlie lived on the ground floor.The home is run by Sequence Care and split into two halves: 2A and 2B, where Ashlie lived on the ground floor.

Howard Elburg, a Sequence Care support worker, told the jury he was allocated to 2A that night and, after hearing the alarm, checked all the bedrooms on his side of the building. Howard Elburg, a Sequence Care support worker, told the jury he was allocated to 2A that night and, after hearing the alarm, checked all the bedrooms on his side of the building. 

When he saw no sign of a fire - and heard from a colleague there was no sign of fire in 2B - he admitted that the thought of calling 999 did not cross his mind.When he saw no sign of a fire - and heard from a colleague there was no sign of fire in 2B - he admitted that the thought of calling 999 did not cross his mind.

When asked by the jury if, looking back, he would have called, he said: “That’s a lesson that I am learning today: if you’re looking and can’t find anything but the alarm is still going, call 999 straight away.”When asked by the jury if, looking back, he would have called, he said: “That’s a lesson that I am learning today: if you’re looking and can’t find anything but the alarm is still going, call 999 straight away.”

He added that he should have checked both sides of the building himself, rather than relying on his colleagues’ report. He added that he should have checked both sides of the building himself, rather than relying on his colleagues’ report. 

The jury also heard from Yousouph Abiodun, an agency support worker, who said the night in question was his first overnight shift for Sequence Care. The jury also heard from Yousouph Abiodun, an agency support worker, who said the night in question was his first overnight shift for Sequence Care. 

He claimed no one told him his role if the fire alarm went off during the night and insisted he followed Howard’s direction, believing him to be the team leader. He told the jury that he never entered 2B that night. He claimed no one told him his role if the fire alarm went off during the night and insisted he followed Howard’s direction, believing him to be the team leader. He told the jury that he never entered 2B that night. 

East London Coroner Graeme Irvine expressed concerns about several direct contradictions between the two men’s statements.East London Coroner Graeme Irvine expressed concerns about several direct contradictions between the two men’s statements.

According to Howard's testimony, Yousouph followed him to 2B and peered into Ashlie’s room through the window, before telling him he could see her body and she was already dead.According to Howard's testimony, Yousouph followed him to 2B and peered into Ashlie’s room through the window, before telling him he could see her body and she was already dead.

Yousouph, meanwhile, was adamant that he remained outside comforting a resident and that he never told Howard he had seen Ashlie Timms's body. Yousouph, meanwhile, was adamant that he remained outside comforting a resident and that he never told Howard he had seen Ashlie Timms's body. 

The inquest is still waiting to hear whether a third support worker present that night will attend court to give evidence. Following several failed attempts to contact them by the Met Police, Coroner said “further measures have been taken” to get them to attend. The inquest is still waiting to hear whether a third support worker present that night will attend court to give evidence. Following several failed attempts to contact them by the Met Police, Coroner said “further measures have been taken” to get them to attend. 

The inquest at Barking Town Hall is scheduled to last until 14th April.The inquest at Barking Town Hall is scheduled to last until 14th April.