A NEIGHBOUR rushed into a burning flat to try to save her friend who was still inside during a fire, an inquest heard.

Ricky John Hawkins had been socialising with friends earlier that day but tragically died before being pulled from his burning property.

In a statement during an inquest held at Bournemouth Town Hall on April 4, Ricky’s mother, Violet Foster, described him as a “happy, well-respected person”.

She said he never had a bad bone in his body and she could not have wished for a better son.

Ricky’s niece, Millie Arnold, told Dorset Coroner’s Court she returned to his flat at Thorncombe Close, Poole, on September 9, 2023, after being away for a few days.

She added Ricky appeared quiet which was out of character because he was usually “loud and bubbly”.

He pointed out his new cooker which had been installed a few days before and Ms Arnold left the flat to see friends, with the pair messaging for the remainder of the day.

Kelsie Trowbridge, Ricky’s partner of a few months, said he had been at her address watching football that afternoon before leaving at around 7pm.

At around 11.30pm Ricky sent a message, asking to come over and when Ms Trowbridge said she was going to bed he sent his last message to her saying goodnight.

Ricky was next seen walking in a rush towards Asda at around 11.30pm by Ms Arnold who said he was “acting in a way that was not himself”.

Nicola Cameron, Ricky’s life-long friend and neighbour, said at around midnight she heard a “loud pop” before seeing Ricky’s flat on fire outside her window.

Ms Cameron found Ricky’s keys in the front door and was met with flames when she attempted to enter the building.

A neighbour pulled Ms Cameron out of the burning building and waited until emergency services arrived.

Shaun Milton from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said at 1.07am, 15 999 calls were made to the fire department.

Firefighters arrived at 1.14am, finding a “significant fire”, before entering and finding one male inside.

Ricky was found unconscious in the bathtub of his bathroom, and despite efforts of emergency services he was pronounced deceased at the scene.

A fire observation after the incident found two hobs of an electric cooker had been left on, a toaster with two slices of bread in and eggs left in the microwave.

The fire was believed to have begun accidentally due to cooking.

DS Chris Bradford told the court an examination of Ricky’s phone found his last found call to be at 11.50pm with a person linked to county lines drugs.

It is believed he purchased drugs that evening but there was no evidence of third-party involvement.

Dr Russell Delany, pathologist, conducted a post-mortem examination and found a fatal level of carbon monoxide poisoning.

It was confirmed Ricky was alive and breathing at the time of the fire being active but he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs which could have impaired his ability to escape.

His medical cause of death was inhalation of products of combustion.

Senior coroner for Dorset, Rachael Griffin, concluded Ricky’s death was accidental.