Accidental death verdict in Worcester pub fall inquest

Worcester News: The Paul Pry The Paul Pry

AN INQUEST into the death of a man who died after falling through an open door and down a “dangerous” flight of stairs in a city centre pub has reached a conclusion of accidental death.

Robert Ramachander Murthi of Lichfield Avenue in Ronkswood died on Christmas Day last year, five days after falling down steps and hitting his head at the Paul Pry in The Butts.

An inquest into the death of the 55-year-old at Stourport Coroner’s Court this morning heard the steps were behind a door marked ‘Private’ next to the entrance to the men’s and women’s toilets which was kept locked and a keypad was used to ensure only staff were able to unlock it.

The pub’s licensee Catherine Ottaway told the inquest she had immediately noticed the stairs were a hazard when she took over in March 2013 and had put measures such as the keypad in place to avoid any possible accidents.

“We always knew the stairs were dangerous and the door had to be locked at all times,” she said.

“I don’t have it written down in writing ‘please shut the cellar door’ but everyone did do it generally.”

Former manager of the pub Marco Tedino told the inquest Mr Murthi, who worked as a cleaner, was a regular customer.

“He could have been in some week two or three times then I might not see him for a week or so,” he said.

Mr Tedino said he was working in the pub during the evening on Friday, December 20 and had seen Mr Murthi, who was born in Stockport, come in.

“He came in rather late in the evening,” he said. “It was Christmas and he was enjoying the evening.

“He would have had a few but nothing that registered to me – he wasn’t falling over or anything.”

He said he had gone into the cellar to prepare beer barrels for the next day at about 9.30pm and had swung the door shut behind him as he would normally do, but did not check it had closed fully.

“While I was down there I heard quite a loud noise which startled me,” he said.

“I went to see and I noticed someone was on the stairs.”

He saw it was Mr Murthi and called an ambulance, which took him to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where he died of a traumatic head injury caused by a fractured skull five days later.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, assistant Worcestershire coroner Marguerite Elcock said it was clear the door to the cellar had not been shut completely and Mr Murthi had fallen through as a result.

Addressing his family she said: “I hope that this process offers some closure.

“Anyone who has been bereaved understands how difficult it is. I would like to offer my condolences.”

A spokesman from Worcestershire Regulatory Services - which is responsible for managing health and safety in the county - said the organisation would be considering what the most appropriate action to take will be following the completion of the inquest.

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