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Chef died after being overcome by barbecue fumes in freak accident

Frank Murphy
Frank Murphy

A CHEF died in a freak accident after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from barbecue equipment while he slept in his parked van during an Irish festival.

A Cork Coroner's inquest returned a verdict of accidental death for Frank Murphy (43) who was found unconscious in his Ford Transit van parked on Cornmarket Street in Cork during the 2016 Jazz Festival.

Mr Murphy was a well-known figure within the Cork culinary world and worked with food operations at many festivals across the city and county.

He started his catering operation from Skibbereen Farmer's Market and traded under the name 'Frankie's Badass Burgers.'

The inquest was told it has not been possible to ascertain the precise source of the gas involved and whether it was the propane gas cylinders or the barbecue equipment itself that was responsible.

Coroner Philip Comyn was told that Mr Murphy of Gubbeen, Schull, Co Cork had been operating a barbecue stall outside the Bodega Bar on Cornmarket street during the last October Bank Holiday weekend.

He finished cleaning and storing his equipment at 4.30am on October 30 and decided to get a few hours sleep before he resumed work at 7.30am.

Several propane gas cylinders were also stored in his van.

Mr Murphy got into the front of his parked van and went to sleep with all the windows closed and the doors locked.

The engine was not running.

He had sent a text to his wife, Julie, the previous evening when he finished serving.

Tragically, Mr Murphy had not been feeling well and his wife had previously urged him not to work that bank holiday weekend.

She sent him a text on the morning of October 30 and became concerned when she didn't get a reply.

Mr Murphy was scheduled to meet his sister, Paula, and her family on October 30 during the Cork festival.

When he didn't meet her outside the Bodega as arranged, his sister spotted his parked van and went to check on her brother.

Mr Murphy was spotted lying slumped and unresponsive across the front driver and passenger seats.

She raised the alarm and, despite locals breaking into the van and Mr Murphy being given emergency treatment at the scene, he was pronounced dead before he could be rushed to hospital.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, said Mr Murphy was found to have a blood carbon monoxide concentration of 63pc, far above the fatal threshold of 50pc.

Dr Bolster ruled that Mr Murphy died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning but she stressed she could not comment on the possible source of the gas.

A Garda test found that the exhaust system of the van was operating perfectly and it was not the source of the carbon monoxide.

It was unclear whether the gas came from the propane cylinders or the barbecue equipment, both stored in the rear of the van.

"The circumstances are clearly evident," Mr Comyn said.

"This was an accidental death. It was an unfortunate accident to befall Mr Murphy.

"There is very little one can say by way of consolation but I will refer to what Dr Bolster said which is that the death was painless and Mr Murphy would have known nothing about it."