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A SCARBOROUGH pensioner died of natural causes which were not exacerbated by a gas leak near her home, an inquest has concluded.

Gwendolin Jessie Willins, 88, of Weaponness Valley Close, passed away in March this year.

Initial tests suggested she had died from natural causes.

An inquest was called to assess whether the gas leak had been a potential causal factor.

However, coroner Michael Oakley said evidence showed there was no direct link between Mrs Willins’ death and the leak.

The inquest, held at Scarborough County Court, heard Mrs Willins had suffered from nausea and a loss of appetite in the month before her death.

Professor Kevin Channer, from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, in Sheffield, was asked if these symptoms could have been triggered by the gas leak.

However, he said it was difficult to ascertain categorically whether a leak was a contributing factor as Mrs Willins had also been suffering from a heart condition.

Chris Clarkson, an engineer from Northern Gas Networks, told the inquest he was first to arrive at the scene when a smell of gas was reported.

Mr Clarkson, who has 37 years experience in the industry, said he checked the street and also walked into Mrs Willins’ home - as paramedics and police officers checked her body - to check her meter for signs of leaking gas.

He said: “I could smell gas in the air in the street straight away.

“I did some tests using pin bars and found one area which measured 22 on the lower explosive limit.

“However, there were no other readings anywhere else and told my supervisor to send a team the next day as there was no reason for them to go that night.”

The inquest heard from Peter Christie, head of health and safety for Northern Gas Networks, who said the company undertook a daily monitoring programme on the pipework in the immediate aftermath of the leak.

He said the company checked two gas mains in the area and, after finding the source of the leak, bypassed the supply with a new pipe away from the damaged 18 inch cast iron network.

He said the pipes would be assessed every five years to check any signs of damage.

Beth Rawson, from the Health and Safety Executive, told the inquest the body was satisfied with the work carried out by Northern Gas Networks after the leak.

A spokeswoman for Northern Gas Networks spoke to the Evening News immediately after the verdict.

She said: “Noting the outcome of the proceedings, we would like to extend our sympathies to Mrs Willins’ family and trust that the inquest has brought the matter to a close.”

She added the company operates within standards set by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets and the Health and Safety Executive.

She also added the company was recognised as being one of the safest and reliable gas distributors in the UK.