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Verdict awaited into death of man after house fire allegedly caused by fridge freezer

Inquest hears how man died in a house fire allegedly caused by a faulty fridge

Santosh Benjamin Muthiah died in 2010

20 September 2014

Barnet Coroner's Court heard over three weeks how a man from Wealdstone, north London, died saving his children from a house fire.

Santosh Benjamin Muthiah was 36 when he died. His wife Jennifer Benjamin, was left in a coma for two weeks after the fire in November 2010. Mrs Benjamin survived, along with the couple's three-year-old daughter and their three-month-old baby.

The Court was told that a Beko fridge freezer, which is believed to have had a fault with the unit’s defrost timer mechanism, caused the fire.

The court heard that Beko, one of Europe's largest white goods brands, had been aware of a problem with components as far back as 2003.

The product was not recalled until after Mr Benjamin's death. London Fire Brigade wrote to the company after a number of fires involving similar models.

Speaking before the inquest started, Mrs Benjamin’s lawyer, Jill Paterson from Leigh Day, said: “Every family has the right to expect that the appliances they purchase for their homes are safe. The family is keen to uncover the facts of exactly what happened leading up to this loving father's death, and we await the findings of the inquest with interest."

In a statement read to the inquest, Dr Benjamin said:

"Since Santosh's death I am aware that Beko issued a voluntary recall of the relevant fridge-freezer models.

"I confirm that had I received notice of this recall I am adamant that I would have acted immediately and contacted the manufacturer for guidance."

The verdict is expected later this month

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