‘Murder’ fire was caused accidently

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The nightmare of a man arrested for arson and murder of his lover of 17 years finally ended this week.

An inquest ruled the fire that killed former Open University academic Dr Kathlyn Henderson was more than likely caused by a cigarette that was accidently left burning.

For 58-year-old Ken Collins it was proof that he had been correct all long.

The city mechanic was arrested within minutes of the fatal fire and held in police custody for two nights.

Officers stripped him of his clothes, possessions, phone and car, suspecting he had deliberately set fire to the Great Linford flat.

Ken had repeatedly warned heavy smoker and drinker Kathlyn, 57, about the dangers of leaving cigarettes smouldering, and he told police this was probably the cause of the fire.

Days later officers announced Ken was no longer a suspect.

Coroner Tom Osborne heard this week how the couple had split up months before the fire but remained the best of friends.

In May this year they had spent the afternoon before the fire drinking, smoking and chatting together at the St Leger Court flat.

Mr Osborne ruled the death was accidental, caused by a combination of smoke inhalation, likely burns and alcohol intoxication.

Afterwards Ken, who lives in Shenley Lodge, said he finally felt free to grieve.

He told the Citizen: “Kathlyn can now rest in peace. She is gone but not forgotten.”