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Father of Two Killed By Faulty Fridge, Inquest Hears

Tuesday 5th August 2014

A Wealdstone man lost his life four years ago because of a faulty fridge, an inquest has heard.


Barnet Coroner’s Court is hearing testimony today on the deadly Novermber 2010 fire which took the life of a father of two who died trying to save his wife and small children. 

Software Engineer, Santosh Benjamin Muthiah, 36, was able to get his family to safety after a fire broke out in their north London home but died in the fire after inhaling deadly amounts of smoke, a court has heard.

His wife Jennifer, a paediatrician, fell into a two week coma but survived and has been in court today to give a statement on the fire which claimed her husband’s life.

Dr. Benjamin gave testimony describing the moment when the couple awoke to smoke filling their home and she and her husband rushed to deliver their two daughters to safety.

The outbreak of the fire has been attributed to a fault in the couple’s Beko fridge freezer’s defrost timer mechanism—an issue they say Beko was aware of.

The inquest also heard how London fire brigade wrote to the company more than once after responding to a number of fires caused by similar models. The court heard testimony that Beko had known of the fault since 2003 but only acted on it after Mr Muthiah’s death.

Beko Managing director from 2002-2010, Clarence Witter, confirmed that the company’s decision to recall the model was as a result of Mr Muthiah’s death.

Mr Witter said: “When we had the tragic incident of Mr Muthiah's death we felt we needed to look at it in a totally different light."

Dr. Benjamin gave testimony confirming that the appliance had been “playing up” in days before the fire and that she had been prepared to call the manufacturers.

Dr. Benjamin said: "I had got the appliance manual out ready to call up to ask about it but did not get round to it because I was at home on maternity leave and busy with my new baby.”

"As food was not spoiling I did not think that the frost issue was an important or urgent issue. The fire occurred just before I was able to contact Beko."

However, she said that, had there been a warning issued about their model of fridge, she would have acted on it immediately.

The inquest continues.