A DOG alerted a Belmont family to a domestic tragedy by barking over the unconscious body of a man who had fallen down the stairs, an inquest heard.

William Powell, 56, from Westfields, Hereford, had been staying with his sister and brother-in-law on June 17 last year when he fell down the stairs in the middle of the night, cracking his skull and falling into a coma.


His brother-in-law Anthony Sullivan woke at about 4am to the barking of the family dog to find Mr Powell's body slumped at the bottom of the stairs.

Mr Sullivan said: "The dog was going berserk. I thought it wanted to be let out. When I put the light on I saw the body.

"He was lying in an awkward position. He had fallen against a big armchair at the bottom of the stairs."

Mr Powell had suffered ill health since contracting tuberculosis and meningitis in the 1960s. He had trouble seeing in the dark, had lost the use of an arm in a fall two weeks previously and couldn't walk easily because of an operation to remove some of his toes.

Following the fall he was rushed to Hereford County Hospital but failed to regain consciousness, dying of pneumonia brought on by the shock of his injuries, two weeks later on July 3.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner David Halpern said: "There was nothing anyone could do for him.

"It seems he was unconscious from the time he fell down the stairs and would not have felt any more pain.

"He had enough problems in life and we can just be glad he did not have any more problems in death."