A heartbroken family have been told the cause of the brain haemorrhage that killed their beloved brother and son will never be known.
The family of Stephen Butt were in Preston Coroner’s Court on Tuesday to hear the outcome of an inquest into the death of the 50-year-old last August.
He had suffered a head injury which the court, including 10 members of Mr Butt’s family, heard caused a bleed on the surface of the brain.
Simon Jones, Coroner for Preston and West Lancashire, concluded: “Stephen Butt died on August 18, 2013, as a result of a traumatic head injury and although a number of possible causes were identified, including a fall and a blow to the head, the way in which the traumatic injury was sustained cannot be established.”
Mr Butt, a former chip shop worker, had been on a night out in Blackpool with his partner Julianna John, her son Richard Jones and his girlfriend Natalie Brown on August 17. The family heard he was in good spirits from a taxi driver who took the group home in the early hours of August 18. But at 5.45am that morning paramedics were called to Mr Butt’s home on Park Lane, Preesall. He was pronounced dead at Blackpool Victoria Hospital at 7.25am.
The court heard from taxi driver Martin Wyatt, who took Mr Butt, Ms John and Mr Jones home from Rumours and Hush nightclub to the Preesall address shortly after 4am.
He said he pulled the taxi over on Mill Lane, Stalmine, due to an argument between the party, at which time Mr Butt tripped over while getting out the car and Mr Jones followed him.
There followed an altercation between Mr Jones and Mr Butt which Mr Wyatt said included Mr Jones kicking Mr Butt but he added he did not see any punches thrown, the inquest heard. When later interviewed by police Mr Jones said: “We got out the car and Stephen was shouting and started swinging punches.
“I hit back, it caught him and he fell. I was defending myself. I didn’t for one moment think I’d caused him serious injury.”
Det Supt Andy Murphy told the hearing: “We had a number of meetings with the Crown Prosecution Service, however on October 22 it was agreed there was not a realistic prospect of conviction towards any party and as a result they were released without charge.”
An autopsy carried out by Home Office pathologist, Dr Armour, found four external head injuries and internally a bruise under the skin of his right cheek consistent with an assault wound. A further seven bruises and abrasions to his left arm were found but no evidence on his hands that he had thrown a punch. Dr Armour said: “The external examination supports the fall from the taxi, due to the abrasions to the forehead.
“Circumstances also suggest Mr Butt had been victim of assault, due to the bruise under his cheek, consistent with a single punch.
“Either of these could have produced the fatal haemorrhage, it is not possible scientifically or pathologically to say which caused the haemorrhage.”
The coroner recorded a narrative verdict.