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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Depressed James Spencer suffers 95% burns after setting himself on fire at Mote Park in Maidstone

26 March 2014
by James Walker

James Spencer suffered 95% burns and died a day after a passerby and emergency services battled to save his life.

The 30-year-old, who lived in Gallants Lane, East Farleigh, covered himself in petrol near an overflow car park and set himself alight in front of Colin Slender, who was sitting in his parked car.

James Spencer, who died after being engulfed in flames in Mote Park, Maidstone

James Spencer, who died after being engulfed in flames in Mote Park, Maidstone

Mr Slender quickly moved his vehicle to avoid it catching fire then called the emergency services.

Before help arrived a second man, John Davis-Ashdown, battled desperately to douse the flames.

In a statement, he told the inquest he wrapped his jacket around Mr Spencer and had some success extinguishing flames at the top of his body.

A teenage boy handed over his t-shirt to put out the remainder of the blaze and two workers from Mote Park’s cafe ran over with a jug of water.

Mr Davis-Ashdown said he managed to speak with Mr Spencer, who worked for a job agency.

He asked if the victim intended to kill himself - to which the answer was yes.

Mr Spencer lived with his parents and had a history of mental health problems.

Emergency services were called to Mote Park after James Spencer was discovered alight

Emergency services were called to Mote Park after James Spencer was discovered alight

Dr Jackie Gaston, from the Orchard Medical Centre in Heath Road, Coxheath, said he first complained about feeling low in November 1997 and was placed on the mental health register in 2004.

In November 2008 he overdosed on medication but later told his mother, Kathy, he did not want to die.

A year later he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.

Father Duncan Spencer said the prescribed drugs caused his son to gain weight - an issue that upset him.

About six months before his death Mr Spencer stopped taking his medication and his family noticed a dip in his happiness - although he never talked about suicide.

Suspected sham marriages were stopped just before the ceremonies at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone

The inquest was heard at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone

Police, paramedics, firefighters and the Kent Air Ambulance all tended to Mr Spencer at Mote Park on December 4 before he was driven to King’s College Hospital.

He was moved to specialist Broomfield Hospital, in Essex, where he passed away.

Speaking at the Archbishop’s Palace, in Mill Street, coroner Patricia Harding ruled that James Spencer killed himself while suffering from depression.

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