A well-known barmaid who “pulled a pint in every pub in Blackburn” died after being strangled by her own pyjamas in an accident at her home.
Jackie Michelle Cottrill was found dead on 24 January by her nephew Josh Brocklebank, who had been staying with her.
Brocklebank came downstairs to find his aunt had been strangled after her clothing was caught in the oven.
At an inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court, Dr James Adeley said he had “never come across such an unusual case” in his 20 years as a coroner.
Dr Adeley read out statements from Cottrill’s loved ones who described her as a “happy and sociable person” who worked hard in her job as a barmaid.
In a statement, Brocklebank said he had gone downstairs in the early hours when his aunt had made him a bacon sandwich.
“He went to bed, then he woke at 1pm and left his room at 2pm,” Dr Adeley said.
He went into the kitchen and found her collapsed by the oven door.
The inquest heard 52-year-old Cottrill had suffered a stroke six years prior to her death, but she did not suffer any balance problems as a result.
A full post-mortem examination revealed no signs of disease or natural death, and the cause of death was the compression of Cottrill’s neck caused by her pyjama top becoming accidentally entangled in the oven door.
Following discussion with Cottrill’s family, the coroner recorded the cause of death as asphyxiation as he wanted to make it clear it was purely an accident.
“It is very unusual that someone who was fit and well managed to suspend themselves accidentally from the oven door,” Dr Adeley said.
“What appears to have happened is that for some reason she has fallen and caught her pyjama top on the lower handle of the oven door.
“I can’t explain how she ended up in this position, it’s a very unusual case. In my 20 years of doing this I have never come across this happening.”
Cottrill’s two daughters, Sarah Ramsdale and Toni Cottrill, attended the inquest alongside their uncle Adrian Macfarlane.
“Only she knows how it happened,” Ramsdale said. “We’ll never know,” Cottrill’s brother added.
Returning a conclusion of accidental death, the coroner said: “Something has occurred that has caused Jackie to get her pyjama top caught and through extraordinarily bad luck she has died.
“She died at her home address due to the entanglement of her clothing with an oven door handle.”
Cottrill was well-known in Blackburn, having worked at Queens Park Club, the Clifton and the Railway Club, where she became known as “everyone’s agony aunt”.
Her daughters said she “pretty much knew the name of everyone in Blackburn”.
She was grandma to a 10-year-old, Mayson, and had been with her partner Kev for around a decade.
“She knew everything about everyone and was never shy with a bit of gossip,” her daughters told LancsLive after the inquest.
“Her wonderful sense of humour endeared her to everyone she came into contact with and it is a great testament to her nature that she formed so many long-lasting relationships over the years.
“There wasn’t a pub in Blackburn where she hadn’t pulled a pint, she even worked alongside her daughters in the Last Orders pub.
“Being as sociable as she was, she never saw this as work but as a chance to spend time with her friends and make new ones.
“Blackburn has lost a true character and the town, pubs and games nights will never be the same without her.”