Broadheath fatal fire inquest: Woman was warned by Trafford social services

Aftermath: the house on Barlow Road, Broadheath

Shaun Van Straaten

Tracy Jones

First published in News
Last updated

A BROADHEATH woman was warned her boyfriend was a threat to her children's safety weeks before he killed her and her son in an arson attack, an inquest heard.

Trafford social services warned Tracy Jones, 40, about David Potts on August 12 2011 and she subsequently ended their relationship.

But in the early hours of September 19 2011, Potts set fire to Ms Jones' Barlow Road home while she slept upstairs with her three children.

Mr Potts, who was 39, died later that day as result of severe burns and smoke inhalation.

Ms Jones' 15-year-old son Shaun Van Straaten died two days later and she herself died on November 25.

Shaun and Ms Jones had tried to fend off Mr Potts, who had broken into their Barlow Road home and doused petrol in their living room - but he was able to alight the vapours and all three were engulfed in flames.

Ms Jones' daughter Cailin, who was 18 at the time, suffered severe burns and was pulled from the fire by a neighbour, while her four-year-old brother Zach was rescued by firefighters.

On the first day of the inquest, which is being held at Stockport Coroner's Court and is expected to last six weeks, the court heard evidence from some of Mr Potts' friends and his mother, who testified that he was a heavy drinker and drug user.

His friend Robert Stevenson said Mr Potts would drink 'as much as he could get his hands on', as well as smoking £10 worth of cannabis a day and taking the amphetemine, speed.

The court also heard that Mr Potts had previously had a relationship with a 13-year-old girl, who had subsequently had his child.

Mr Potts was initially granted access to the child, but was barred from doing so after he kidnapped her and threatened to kill her and himself.

Giving evidence, Christine Potts, Mr Potts' mother, told the court her son became 'very upset' after social workers visited Ms Jones on August 12 2011 and informed her that Mr Potts was a threat to her children.

Ms Jones subsequently ended her relationship with Mr Potts, whom she had been dating on and off for around a year.

Mr Stevenson said Mr Potts sent him increasingly threatening text messages after he suspected Ms Jones was dating another of his friends and heard him say 'I'll kill her'.

Mr Potts has also threatened to burn down his probation office and had tried to kill himself on several occasions.

A serious case review published in January found that health officers had 'failed to grasp the seriousness' of the situation.

Manchester South area coroner, Joanne Kearsley, read into evidence a statement from Doctor Lumb, who carried out the post mortem on Mr Potts.

Dr Lumb concluded that although Mr Potts died from his injuries sustained in the fire, he had such a severe case of heart disease that he could 'have died at any time'.

The inquest resumes today, February 26.

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