Coroner's report reveals accidental carbon monoxide poisoning led to couple's death

A coroner's report has shown that the tragic death of an elderly Cowra couple in August last year was the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

David and Elaine Livingstone were found deceased on Friday, August 23, by a regular house caller.

According to the report the deaths, which occurred in the lounge room of the Hanna Street home, happened some time between Wednesday, August, 21 and Friday, August 23, and were the result of carbon monoxide from a poorly maintained wood heater.

According to a pharmacologist working with detectives on the case, a carbon monoxide level of around 20 per cent would render most people unconscious.

Mr Livingstone was found to have carbon monoxide saturation of 50 per cent in his blood, his wife a slightly higher saturation of 57 per cent.

The report reveals that levels as high as those seen in the Livingstone's toxicology reports are usually associated with smoke inhalation due to fires, or deliberate car exhaust inhalation.

The doctor noted that over-heating and reduced oxygen due to insufficient combustion heating could have resulted in increasing carbon monoxide levels which could have resulted in the two becoming unconscious and then dying as a result of carbon toxicity.

A report supplied to the coroner by the lead crime scene officer, together with accompanying photographs, indicated that the flue to the wood heater had not been cleaned or maintained in a number of years.

The officer concluded that the poor state of the wood heater and the flue was the cause of the lethal levels of carbon monoxide accumulating in the lounge room.

The coroner found there to be no suspicious circumstances in relation to the deaths and said police involved in the investigation did a thorough and comprehensive investigation. He stressed to the public they can be assured that no stone was left unturned as a result of the investigation.


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