Man who killed himself, his ex-partner and her son in a Broadheath house fire left notes, an inquest hears

Man who killed himself, his ex-partner and her son in a Broadheath house fire left notes, an inquest hears

David Potts

Shaun Van Straaten

Tracy Jones

Cailin Van Straaten and Zach Jones with police officers after a community appeal

First published in News
Last updated
Messenger Newspapers: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A MAN who set fire to his former partner’s Broadheath house – killing her, himself and her teenage son – had left notes saying goodbye to family members.


David Potts, aged 39, committed the arson attack on September 19 2011, a month after social services had told Tracy Jones, 40, that her children could be taken into care if she continued to allow Mr Potts to see them.


Tracy’s 18-year-old daughter, Cailin, was badly injured in the attack, as was her four-year-old brother Zach.


Shaun, who was 15, tried to fend off Mr Potts with a hammer after he broke into their Barlow Road home in at around 3am and doused much of the ground floor and staircase in petrol.


But Mr Potts was able to alight the vapors, engulfing himself, Shaun and Ms Jones in flames.


However, the inquest which is being held at Stockport Coroners’ Court, heard that Shaun had previously had a close relationship with Mr Potts.


Clare Lomax, who is a senior practitioner for Trafford social services, visited Ms Jones on August 12 2011.


She was concerned that Mr Potts had previously had a sexual relationship with a minor which had resulted in a pregnancy, a conviction for common assault after throwing a pan filled with hot oil at someone, as well as a long history of mental illness and self-harm.


Miss Lomax told the inquest she was surprised that Ms Jones knew a lot about Mr Potts’ past when she visited her on August 12, but she agreed to stop Mr Potts seeing her children.


When Miss Lomax informed Mr Potts of this, she said he became so angry that she thought he was going to attack her and her colleague and when he agreed to leave she had to lock al the doors and call the police.


Miss Lomax said Cailin had told her she felt very uncomfortable around Mr Potts, but when she visited again the following Monday and spoke to Shaun, she was very concerned about Mr Potts’ influence on the teenager.


“He liked the way David Potts treated people and liked the way he didn’t care about social boundaries,” said Miss Lomax.


David Potts would brag about his relationship with the children’s mother and Miss Lomax was concerend he was trying to break down sexual boundaries.
 

Tom Kark QC, who is representing Cailin Van Straaten at the inquest, suggested that there was a level of pre-meditation in Mr Potts’ actions, by drawing attention to notes written by Mr Potts, which were addressed to his mother, sister, a friend and Miss Lomax.


The note to Miss Lomax made it clear that Mr Potts attached a lot of blame to the social worker, as part of his letter to her stated: “All the letters and texts are with my mum, just look through and see what you’ve done.”


Another extract addressed to his mother read: “Tracy’s hurting, I am hurting, I’m just putting a stop to the hurt.”


Mr Kark said this could be read in two ways – that Mr Potts was putting a stop to his own personal hurt or that he intended to put an end to his and Ms Jones’s hurt.


The inquest continues.

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