British national, Natalie Crichlow, who died in a house fire at Sergeants Village, Christ Church, on July 28, succumbed to infections caused by her injuries on August 6.
And, Barbados’ Commissioner of Police, Tyrone Griffith, has stated that investigations so far revealed that there was no smell of accelerant in the house or on the victim’s clothing, nor was there anyone else involved in her death.
The Commissioner was speaking during a post-Cabinet press conference at Government Headquarters yesterday, where he sought to give the facts in the matter amidst overseas reports that the 44-year-old mother of three was murdered after being set on fire while sleeping.
Mr. Griffith explained that Ms. Crichlow arrived in Barbados on July 15 to visit relatives and was staying at her brother’s residence in Sergeant Village, Christ Church, as he was ill and staying in a nursing home.
However, on July 28, there was a fire at the residence around 1:43 p.m., which resulted in her being burnt in the wooden house, which had an enclosed eight-foot galvanize fence at the back; the fence was joined by a chain-link fence at the front.
He added that on that day about 12:15 p.m., Ms. Chrichlow video called the British health advisor who had custody of her nine-year-old son and who was also visiting Barbados from England and gave them directions to the house.
She was preparing meals for them, when she received another call from the British health advisor around 1:00 p.m.
“About 13:43 hours suddenly the house went up in flames with the seat of the fire being concentrated in the kitchen area. The fire rapidly engulfed the house and residents and workmen in the area quickly sprang into action to assist.
“They broke away a sheet of galvanize from in the yard to gain entry and assisted the deceased who was found in the yard badly burnt. The ambulance was summoned and she was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” Mr. Griffith said.
However, he noted that investigations from the closed-circuit television footage from an adjacent house “clearly demonstrated that no one entered those premises for the hours prior to fire taking place”.
He added the fence was fully intact apart from the sheet that was removed to provide access to the victim, and the footage showed that the fire originated in the kitchen and was concentrated that area.
The Commissioner also told the media that lawmen found a completely burnt out saucepan with remnants of food, two gas bottles, one without any negligible damage, and the other with the gas head melted.
He said the victim’s clothing was examined forensically for traces of accelerant, and none was found.
Mr. Griffith also noted that house-to-house enquiries into the matter were conducted throughout the Sergeant Village area and statements taken from a number of witnesses.
He added that rumours that a man who once lived in the same house were investigated, and the man interviewed along with the deceased woman’s brother, but there was no evidence to show that they were involved in her death.
“The victim was never interviewed by police in this matter given her condition at the time. Investigations are continuing and efforts are being pursued to gather information in relation to the victimology. This matter is being treated as an unnatural death and intense investigations are ongoing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall, stated: “Barbados prides itself as being a society that acknowledges and recognizes freedom of the press but equally it is important for us to defend our reputation, not blindly, but in cases where it is appropriate to do so.
The news stories are being carried in an important part of our tourism market, but whether it was there or anywhere else, it is important for us to let the interested parties know that the rule of law is prevailing in Barbados.”
He added that whatever the circumstances, the loss of life was tragic, and Cabinet, through the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., would be reaching out to the grieving family in the coming days. “On behalf of Cabinet, the Government and people of Barbados, we want to extend our sympathy to grieving family and friends here and abroad,” Mr. Marshall said.