Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
'Stressed' Swindon man set himself on fire
A PAINTER and decorator who died after he set himself on fire had spoken about proposing to his girlfriend just days before, an inquest heard.
Martin Rayner, also known as Martin Curtis, died of severe burns caused by fire outside his home in Gorse Hill on Wednesday, May 23 last year.
An inquest in Salisbury yesterday heard the 40-year-old had become increasingly stressed in the weeks leading up to his death but had been speaking about the future with his long-term partner, Karen Edmeads.
Karen, who lived with him in Norman Road, said: “On Monday night he picked me up from work and said he wanted to talk.
“He said he would go and ask my dad about marrying me if I wanted to.”
The court heard Martin suffered from high blood pressure. He developed symptoms of stress and anxiety in 2008 and had had one of his adrenal glands removed after doctors discovered a tumour.
He recovered but had started developing symptoms again.
The couple had been on holiday to Cyprus to mark his 40th birthday three weeks before he died.
Karen said: “From the time he got back he was very stressed – everything was making him stressed. He was anxious and stressed and I don’t know why.
“We argued nearly every day. He just kept getting really worked up. I said to him, ‘you need to go to the doctor, you’re not well’.
“He had been similar to what he was like before his tumour was diagnosed. He was just stressed, he wasn’t down.”
Martin asked Karen to go to the doctor with him that week, but he never made the appointment. The court heard on the day he died he was stressed because he had to take Karen to work but also had to visit his mum.
Karen said: “He gave me money and said ‘get a taxi to work’. I shouted, ‘I’m not getting a taxi to work, you can take me’.
“He was upset. He just drove off really fast.”
Martin visited his mum and later returned home. During the inquest, neighbours said they saw smoke at about 11.20am behind a fence in the couple’s garden.
Robert Lane ran to his neighbour’s house to phone the emergency services.
A statement from Martin’s mother, Julie Mcleod, said: “He lived for Karen and was very much in love with her.”
Julie said he seemed fine when he visited that morning.
“If I had any idea Martin was going to kill himself that morning I wouldn't have let him go,” she said.
Recording an open verdict, Dr Claire Balysz, assistant deputy coroner for Swindon and Wiltshire, said: “He did not leave a message.
“I am in no doubt he set fire to himself and I am in no doubt that by doing so he caused himself to die, but I am not sure that he intended to take his own life.”