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29th Jun, 2022

Inquest told of fatal stair fall

Worcester Editorial 17th Jun, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

A MAN died on Christmas Day after falling down a ‘dangerous’ flight of stairs in a city pub, an inquest has heard.

Robert Murthi, of Lichfield Avenue, Ronkswood, fell down the cellar steps at the Paul Pry public house, The Butts, about 9.30pm on December 20 last year.

The 55-year-old cleaner was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where he died five days later from a traumatic head injury caused by a fractured skull.

At Worcestershire Coroner’s Court last Thursday (June 12) the court was told how the door to the cellar, which was next to the men’s toilets, was protected by a coded lock which only staff knew.

Marco Tedino, pub manager, said he was working on the evening and had gone to change a barrel in the cellar and thought he had closed the door behind him.

“About 9.30pm a member of staff asked me if they could finish up for the evening,” he said.

“I said it would be fine I just asked if it would be okay if she hung around a few minutes so I could prepare some more beer in the cellar.

“I got to the cellar door, I punched in the code, turned the nob, opened the door as I normally do, swung the door behind me and carried on walking down the stairs.

“I didn’t go back and check it was closed. I was confident it was closed.

“I carried on down the stairs, got to the bottom and went to a barrel which was leaking. I then heard quite a loud noise which startled me.

“I went to see and I noticed someone was on the stairs. At that point I called the ambulance.”

Licensee, Catherine Ottaway, admitted the stairs had caused her concern when the pub re-opened in March last year.

“We did a risk assessment for each area of the pub,” she said.

“The building was in need of a lot of repair when we took it on.

“We had to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes into the possibility of accidents happening and trying to prevent this from happening.

“We always knew the stairs were dangerous and the door had to be locked at all times. Just walking down the steps for the first time told us they were dangerous.”

Worcestershire Coroner Marguerite Elcock said to Mr Murthi’s family: “I hope this process offers you some closure.

“Any of us who have been bereaved understand how difficult it is and I would like to offer my condolences.”

She recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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