Pensioner died after suffering break in stairs fall tragedy

Blackpool Town Hall where the inquest took place
Blackpool Town Hall where the inquest took place
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A pensioner died after breaking her neck falling down the stairs, an inquest heard.

Blackpool assistant coroner Derek Baker was told 83-year-old Joan Marlow’s death was caused after a traumatic fracture to the cervical spine, after falling down the stairs at her home in Arnott Road, South Shore.

Ms Marlow, who lived on her own, was discovered on April 19 after a next-door neighbour became concerned for her welfare and called police, who broke down her door.

Dr Sameer Shaktawat, a consultant pathologist at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, revealed Ms Marlow had alcohol in her system and had suffered a mild heart attack – but could not say if this was before or following the fall.

He added: “The cause of death was a traumatic spinal fracture to the 1A bone, from the findings I saw.

“The bone which broke, all the nerves go through it.

“Tests indicated alcohol levels were higher at the time of death and may have affected co-ordination and balance.”

Ms Marlow’s body was found after a next-door neighbour, George Robinson, noticed she had failed to collect her morning delivery of milk, Mr Baker said in a statement.

Mr Robinson asked another neighbour to look through the property’s letterbox, where Ms Marlow was at the bottom of the stairs.

Police knocked down the door and the pensioner was pronounced dead at the scene. It is believed she could have been there up to 24 hours.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Blackpool and Fylde assistant coroner Derek Baker said: “I do accept the findings of a traumatic fracture to the cervical spine. The injuries dealt are consistent with a fall down the stairs.

“There is some speculation about a heart condition and I do take note of the alcohol levels which would have contributed to her fall. This was an accident.”