A combination of prescription drugs and alcohol could have led to Marie-Anne Chavasse waking too late to get out of her narrow boat Cobra when it caught fire in May, an inquest in Salisbury heard on Monday.

Ms Chavasse, who changed her name by deed poll after separating from her husband Anthony Graham, was found dead in the burnt out wreckage of the narrow boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Honeystreet after fire fighters forced an entry on May 22.

The inquest held in Salisbury heard that Ms Chavasse loved using candles and tea-lights and sometimes had 20 to 30 burning. Her partner Simon Roffe said in a statement that on one previous occasion there had nearly been a blaze when a candle fell over but he managed to extinguish this.

The statement said: “I warned her about the danger of sleeping with candles lit.”

The 36-year-old woman who was taking medication for depression, arthritis and pleurisy had also consumed alcohol in the hours leading up to her death, according to a post mortem examination conducted by pathologist Dr Sharon Kahn.

She gave the cause death as carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation consistent with being in a domestic fire.

Assistant deputy coroner Ian Singleton reached a conclusion that Ms Chevasse died as the result of an accident.

Mr Roffe gave a statement to the police in which he said he had known Ms Chavasse for 18 months and that they had been a couple for the last 12 months, although he also kept his own home at Stanton St Bernard where he was on the night she died.

He said she had bought the narrowboat Cobra with her husband before their separation and they were planning to do it up. She had lived on the boat for three or four years.

The boat was moored at Honeystreet and could not be moved because of engine problems. It had a heater that burned wood and coal and, to get the stove going, Miss Chavasse would open the door to give the fire a good draw.

George Gibson, who runs a boat yard on the opposite side of the canal to where Cobra was moored, said he had to warn Ms Chavasse about flames and sparks issuing from her chimney on a previous occasion.

Mr Gibson said he was woken up by a paper deliveryman at 5.30am on May 22 to be told that smoke was pouring from the boat. His wife played a hose on it across the canal while he ran to it but the steel superstructure was too hot for him to touch.

“I estimate the temperature of the steel to be at least 140 degrees fahrenheit. I knew I could do nothing for anybody who was inside,” said Mr Gibson.

DC Dave Hunt told the inquest that Ms Chavasse’s body was found half way from her sleeping quarters at one end of the boat to the only exit at the far end.

“The police believe she awoke and was attempting to walk to the exit when half-way along she fell to the floor where she was found,” said DC Hunt.

“The police are not treating the incident as suspicious and believe it was a tragic accident.”