Blast victim identified from DNA after house explosion near Leyland

A 57-year-old dad who died in an explosion at his home near Leyland almost three weeks ago had to be identified from DNA, a coroner revealed today.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 5:10 pm

Carl Whalley's body was discovered in the wreckage of his semi-detached dormer bungalow in Kirkby Avenue, Clayton-le-Woods following the fireball.

A joint police and fire service investigation is still going on into the blast which completely demolished the house and badly damaged the one next door.

An inquest into Mr Whalley's death was formally opened and adjourned today by Area Coroner Richard Taylor in Preston.

Carl Whalley had to be identified using DNA.

In the five minute hearing Mr Taylor said a full post mortem report by a Home Office pathologist had yet to be submitted to the Coroners' Court and so he would have to postpone the inquest until a later date.

The Coroner said Mr Whalley's body was found at his home on October 15.

"The circumstances surrounding his death were that the ambulance service reported a house explosion at number 71 Kirkby Avenue.

"This caused extensive damage to the semi-detached property and the adjacent property, which is likely to need demolishing.

A huge fireball engulfs Mr Whalley's house in Clayton-le-Woods.

"A body, believed to be that of Mr Whalley, was found there, but at the time had not been positively identified.

"We now have a positive identification. Detective Inspector Nick Hills confirms that Mr Whalley has been identified via DNA.

"A Home Office post mortem was authorised (the result of) which hasn't been reported to us.

"So I will formally open the inquest and adjourn it for a final hearing."

Nothing remains of the house in Kirkby Avenue following the explosion.

The blast happened around lunchtime on Friday October 15, with witnesses reporting they heard a "massive" bang followed by a huge fireball.

It was some time before Mr Whalley's body could be removed from the wreckage, with fire crews concerned at the dangerous state of the property.

Several days later police revealed the preliminary results of the post mortem were that he died from smoke inhalation and burns.

Reports of a long-running neighbour dispute form part of the police investigation after Mr Whalley had posted details of a row dating back several years on the internet just hours before his house exploded.

Mr Whalley reported to an LEP reporter four years ago that a man had threatened to firebomb his house. He said he had reported the threat to Lancashire Police, but no action had been taken.

The Post contacted the police at the time and they confirmed they were looking into the threat.

The force has now confirmed it has referred the matter to the police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct after admitting officers had spoken to Mr Whalley about his claims of a vendetta.

By law one of the reasons a police force must refer itself to the IOPC is: “If someone had direct or indirect contact with the police when, or shortly before, they were seriously injured or died.”

A spokesperson for Lancashire Constabulary said today: "The investigation continues."