Coronor rules no foul play in fall down stairs

 

A man who died after he fell backwards down a flight of stairs was not pushed to his death, a coroner ruled today.

The family of Daniel Goodall (35) suspected foul play in the death of the father-of-two at his home in Brompton Park, Belfast. But Mr Goodall's wife, Marguerite, told an inquest her husband, who had been drinking, had the accident while she was in the living room.

He died from serious head injuries at the city's Royal Victoria Hospital five days later.

Deputy Coroner Deborah Malcolm said she was unhappy with some of the evidence given by witnesses at Belfast Coroner's Court. But she backed the police inquiry which concluded no crime had taken place in the couple's house on October 24th, 2002.

Mrs Goodall told the hearing she was with her three-year-old daughter in the living room when she witnessed the accident in the mirror. "He [Daniel] was falling backwards with his arms raised above his head.

"There was a terrible loud bang. Danny's wedding ring fell off his finger and landed next to the fireplace.

"It was as if somebody was standing at the top of the stairs and pushed him."

Mrs Goodall said her husband, who suffered from depression, hit his head off the ceiling and the front door. But she denied she had argued with him after he arrived home, around 20 minutes before the accident, despite claims by a neighbour who claimed to have heard heard her shouting.

The inquest also heard Mr Goodall was awarded £150,000 compensation in 1999 after he was shot in both knees in a paramilitary-style attack. But his father, Thomas Goodall, said his son gave the family £30,000 from the payout but only had just over £3 in his bank account when he died.

The inquest heard police had problems tracking down Mrs Goodall's brother, Dermot Winters, to obtain a statement following her husband's death.

Mr Winters attended today's hearing and told the Coroner he had left the house minutes before Mr Goodall arrived at around 11.30am. Sergeant David Lindsay confirmed the dead man's family had requested an investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

He said: "It is quite clear that Mr [Thomas] Goodall and his relatives may believe it was much more than just a fall down stairs." But he added: "The CID said they could not find any evidence that any criminal offence had taken place."

The deputy coroner said Mr Goodall died from a traumatic head injury caused by a fall and there was "no evidence" to indicate anything else had happened.