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A SQUATTER'S death was probably caused by a fire he started to keep warm, an inquest heard.

Christopher Dennis Murphy, aged 43 from St Helens, died after a fire broke out in the ground floor of a house in Manchester Road, Bolton, on January 29.

He was found lying upstairs in the house, where he had been squatting, and was pulled out by firefighters but later pronounced dead at the Royal Bolton Hospital.

An inquest at Bolton heard Mr Murphy died after he inhaled the toxic fumes. Coroner Alan Walsh was told Mr Murphy had a history of heroin and alcohol abuse and mental health issues.

Forensic pathologist Dr Naomi Carter said soot was found in his airways and lungs.

Community mental health nurse Paula Spencer Smith said: “His main concern was fear of the St Helens travelling community.

"He told me he had given evidence to police about a shooting that had resulted in someone going to jail and he was scared about them coming to get him.”

Mr Walsh told the inquest that there was limited evidence to prove this threat was real, but accepted that the concern he had may have resulted in Mr Murphy leading a nomadic lifestyle living in Manchester, Blackpool and Bolton.

His brother, Dennis, said he and his family had not seen Christopher since July 2013. They last spoke to him in December last year.

Mr Walsh recorded a verdict of misadventure.

He said: “It is likely that he started the fire to keep warm and that it developed and got out of hand.

“He may have tried to escape by running upstairs — the fact soot was found in his lungs suggests he was breathing when the fire started.”