Tragic accident claims Sidmouth man's son

PUBLISHED: 14:33 15 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:45 18 June 2010

A FAULTY gas fire flue appears to have caused the tragic death of Sidmothian Tom Griffiths eldest son Toby Thomas, who died at his home in Leiden, Holland, recently.

A FAULTY gas fire flue appears to have caused the tragic death of Sidmothian Tom Griffiths' eldest son Toby Thomas, who died at his home in Leiden, Holland, recently.

An inquest has been opened and adjourned in England after Mr Griffiths brought his son home to be buried at Salcombe Regis churchyard.

The funeral took place there on Thursday afternoon.

Toby, 33, was son to Mr Griffiths and his first wife Sonia, and had been living in Holland for 10 years, running a building business there.

Mr Griffiths, of Rock Cottage, Sidmouth, is a well-know figure in the town and runs the seafront's deckchair concession and Bedford Lawn car park.

He understands his son, who lived with his girlfriend, had returned to spend time at his own home, which had a workshop and office, attached, after she and her mother went on a trip.

"He always had a wood-burning stove there but it was cracked so he was coming back to England to get a new stove and had a free-standing gas fire which had a flue into his workshop which had a broken window," said Mr Griffiths, who last saw his son when he returned to England just after Christmas.

He believes the window had been mended and toxic fumes were pushed back into the living room where Toby was sitting.

Mr Griffiths believes he must have realised something was wrong as he was trying to open a door when he was overcome by fumes.

He said Dutch police were satisfied with the cause of death and not investigating the tragedy, which took place on February 21.

Having travelled to Holland, where 60 to 70 friends gathered for a small service for Toby, Mr Griffiths said: "It was nice to know how much he did do in his short life. He sailed to Alaska and was always ski-ing and running between the bulls in Spain. He travelled all over the world."

Toby leaves two half-brothers, Jimmy and Henry and a half sister Hannah, who is Sonia's daughter.


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