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Camden fire: Demolition worker died in 'shake and bake' meth explosion

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image captionAspen House was due to be demolished to make way for a 119 new home development from Camden Council

A demolition specialist died in a fire he started accidentally while making crystal meth in a condemned building, an inquest heard.

Daniel Coleman, 42, had been living in the empty block of flats, in Camden.

Firefighters found a makeshift bed and signs drugs had been made via a method known as "shake and bake" inside one flat, St Pancras Coroner's Court heard.

Coroner Mary Hassell concluded Mr Coleman's death was linked to "ongoing" drugs issues.

The court heard Mr Coleman was a construction site manager at Aspen House, in Chalk Farm, which was due to be demolished and rebuilt as a 119-home development.

Associates told the court they suspected he had been "squatting" the block of flats and previous work sites before his death on 14 February.

Friend and former colleague Elias Michallides said Mr Coleman had been known to sleep where he worked and had invited him to visit Aspen House, sending photos of where he was staying.

On a previous job, Mr Michallides said, he suspected Mr Coleman had been living in a porters' room.

He recalled an occasion when he had appeared "dishevelled" and with "singed eyebrows", saying he had been "blown up" by a "gas leak".

But he said he saw no evidence this had been due to "an accident while he was making crystal meth" when asked by the coroner.

'Best hideout yet'

In a written statement, Conal McCleery, who first met Mr Coleman seven years ago, said he was "well respected" in the construction industry.

Mr McCleery claimed Mr Coleman had "frittered" away £150,000 in the space of two years and that he was aware he "started using crystal meth".

He assumed Mr Coleman had been living at Aspen House, and said he had described it as "my best hideout yet" in messages.

Site security guards Ibrahim Yahya and Jerry Thompson insisted in court Mr Coleman could not have possibly lived in the building without them noticing.

Despite conflicting evidence, Ms Hassell said she was satisfied that Mr Coleman had been living in Aspen House.

In a narrative conclusion, she said the "shake and bake" method of making crystal meth was "known to be dangerous and volatile" and could cause "very sudden" fiery explosions.

She said: "Daniel died in a fire at Aspen House that he himself started accidentally when he was preparing crystal meth for his own use."

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Related Topics

  • Chalk Farm
  • Camden London Borough Council