A DECORATOR who fell off a three-storey building drank himself to death to deal with the chronic pain brought on by the accident.

Albert Simms died at his home in Virginia Way, Abingdon, in July last year, Oxfordshire Coroners Court heard last week.

The 67-year-old - who was born in Oxford - fell off a three-storey building onto a concrete floor during the course of his work almost 20 years ago, and suffered serious injuries from the fall.

Last week, assistant coroner for Oxfordshire, Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, offered her condolences to the family and concluded that Mr Simms died of natural causes.

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The inquest into his death heard that retired painter and decorator Mr Simms had ‘multiple procedures’ to rectify the osteoarthritis and severe pain brought on by his fall.

Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff and is the most common type of arthritis in the UK.

Whilst for some sufferers, the symptoms can be mild and may come and go, for others it can cause severe problems which make it difficult to carry out everyday activities.

In a consultation with his Abingdon GP in 2018, Mr Simms complained of chronic shoulder pain because of his osteoarthritis.

He was prescribed medication for relief of the pain when surgical intervention proved ineffective.

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Prior to his death, Mr Simms had stopped taking ‘significant painkillers’ and became ‘prone to accidents’ at his home due to a drinking problem, the inquest heard.

His wife, Janet Simms, a retired hairdresser, discovered her husband on the morning of his death ‘sat on the steps with his head up’.

A pathologist report read out in the inquest said that externally there was nothing of note on Mr Simms’ body.

Although, internally, his heart and liver were enlarged, the coroner said this was ‘quite normal for someone of his age’.

Despite a drinking problem, the toxicology report said there was no excessive alcohol in Mr Simms’ body and the most notable finding was cirrhosis of the liver.

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The coroner said Mr Simms’ cause of death was a ‘sudden unexpected death in alcohol misuse, likely a cardiac arrhythmia, a rare but known outcome for those with a history of long term alcohol intake.’

Arrhythmias, or heart rhythm problems, are experienced by more than 2 million people a year in the UK.

They affect all age groups, however drinking alcohol in excess can increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

Mr and Mrs Simms were married for 46 years and a statement read out to the court on behalf of her said: “He had been very unwell with his arthritis.

“He stopped taking morphine and turned to drink instead to deal with the pain.

“He wasn’t able to sleep and instead drank to get to sleep.

“I’m upset he never sought more help.

“He became a very different person to the one I’d known for 46 years due to the excessive drinking.”

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On the day of his death, Mrs Simms woke up at 5am and it was at this point she found her husband slumped next to a unit at the bottom of the stairs.

She subsequently phoned the emergency services and was told to start administering CPR to her husband.

Mrs Simms gathered the help of her neighbour, PC Mark Russell.

The court heard Mr Russell discovered Mr Simms slumped with his head tilted back.

Mr Simms was described as ‘pale and not moving’ and was pronounced dead at just after 6am.

Mr Russell remained with Mrs Simms until emergency services personnel arrived at the scene to take over.