THE death of an eminent astrophysicist was today ruled an accident after a corner was told a friend restrained him in self defence.

Oxford University's Professor Steven Rawlings died from a heart attack after a fight with long-term friend Devinderjit Singh Sivia on January 11 this year.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter today heard the 50-year-old suffered an acute psychotic episode in April last year and he showed signs of becoming “delusional” again in January.

Dr Sivia said his friend threatened to kill him after he invited him to stay at his Southmoor home out of fear for his mental health. Dr Sivia was arrested but no charges were brought.

Recording a verdict that Prof Rawlings' death was an accident, Mr Salter said he accepted Dr Sivia “acted in all times in self-defence and out of fear”.

He said: “In order to stop the attack and defend himself, the friend physically restrained Professor Rawlings in a headlock on the floor that subsequently led to a cardiac arrest and Professor Rawlings' death.”