A COUPLE who died of carbon monoxide poisoning following a house fire had fatal levels of illicit drugs in system, an inquest heard.

Michael and Leanne Plaice had a tempestuous relationship involving drink and drugs, Teesside Coroners' Court was told.

A statement from Mrs Plaice's mother, Beverly Glarvey, said the pair faced a 'lot of bother' when they left the house and she believed her daughter was working as a prostitute to fund the pair's drug addiction and regularly endured beatings from her husband.

She added: "We tried to help her but she would not leave her dog or Michael for one minute. She loved him and stuck up for him even though she was frightened of him."

The inquest heard how the couple and their dog were found dead in their home on Beaumont Road, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, in February this year.

Mr Plaice, 53, was discovered on the sofa of the terraced house when firefighters forced their way into the building after a neighbour raised the alarm.

His 39-year-old wife was found on her hands and knees on the floor.

A Cleveland Fire Brigade investigation determined that the fire had started in the kitchen caused by an unattended chip pan. The report ruled out any foul play as the rear door was locked from the inside and the front door had been barricaded closed from the inside with a lump of wood.

The inquest heard from a family member of Mr Plaice's that the wood was a security measure as 'he was having grief from some people in the street'.

The Northern Echo:

Flowers laid at the scene Picture: NORTH NEWS

Fire investigators believe the fire had petered out after the gas meter in the property ran out of credit and the lack of smoke of alarms in the property could have contributed to their deaths.

A post mortem discovered that Mr Plaice had fatal levels of alcohol and cocaine in his system as well as a cocktail of medicinal drugs. His wife also had a potentially fatal level of cocaine in her system.

Senior coroner Clare Bailey recorded a narrative verdict for them both of carbon monoxide poisoning combined with the effect of the drugs they had taken.

Speaking after the hearing, Steve Johnson, Area Manager Prevention for Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “This tragedy is a reminder of the danger of leaving cooking unattended. It is easy to get distracted whilst cooking but you should always stand by your pan and never leave the room whilst cooking.

"Chip pans are particularly dangerous and we would urge anyone who still has one to replace it with a safer method such as an air fryer. Remember to install smoke alarms and test them regularly – they save vital seconds in an emergency."