‘Did my son fall or was he pushed?’: Dad’s questions to Burnley inquest

THE father of a man who died after falling down the stairs in a house told an inquest he wanted to know whether his son “fell or was pushed”.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2010, 8:06 am

Mr Stuart Little (50) died from head injuries on April 17th when he fell down the stairs in a house in Spencer Street, Burnley, where he was living with Mr Jim Ellis and Latvian Mr Elvis Kilder.

His father, Mr Peter Little, told an inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court how his son and Mr Ellis were heavy drinkers, and he was “perturbed” by the events.

He said: “In my mind there is a jigsaw where all the pieces do not fit together and this perturbs me. Did my son fall or was he pushed? He had chronic arthritis and we would take his medication round. Sadly, he had become an alcoholic but he was a meticulous tradesman. From January to March there had quite obviously been rows in the house.”

The inquest heard the house was owned by a company of which Mr Amjad Khan was a director.

On the morning of Mr Little’s death, Mr Khan received a phone call from another of his tenants, a Russian named only as Arnie, who was ringing on behalf of Mr Kilder who could not speak English.

Mr Khan said: “I got a phone call around 5 a.m. saying Stuart had had an accident. I told them to call an ambulance. When I went round Jimmy seemed shocked.

“Stuart acted like a carer for Jimmy and would take him on jobs where Jimmy would sweep up. I’d seen them fall out in the past when they’d both had a drink.”

Mr Ellis and Mr Kilder, who has now returned to Latvia, were both arrested at the time according to senior investigating officer Det. Insp Andrew Hulme.

The detective said: “Initially there were conflicting stories – Mr Ellis and Mr Kinder’s stories did not marry up. Mr Ellis had had quite a lot to drink and there were a number of bottles of cider and high-strength lager at the scene.

“I called crime scene investigators who assessed the house and found there was no evidence of a fight. I also called Home Office pathologist Dr Naomi Carter because her expertise would be vital. House-to-house inquiries were conducted but no-one had heard any kind of disagreement.”

Dr Carter, who also carried out the post-mortem examination, said the staircase in the house was very steep and Mr Little had significant injuries to the right side of his face and head, including a fractured skull.

She said: “There was no positive evidence he had been in a fight. He was found at the bottom of the stairs wearing only his boxer shorts. Significantly, toxicological tests showed he had consumed a lot of alcohol.

“I can’t say whether he was pushed or fell, but based on the levels of alcohol and the fact he had a musculo-skeletal problem, I would say the likely scenario is that he fell.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor said to Mr Little’s family: “I hope you’ve had some questions answered. I believe he fell when he woke up during the night, perhaps to go to the bathroom.”