A HAMPSHIRE man died after falling and hitting his head while gardening at home, an inquest heard.

Ronald Crease, 91, died on June 12, at Southampton General Hospital, after he fell down steps fracturing his spine on Cheriton Avenue in Southampton.

Senior coroner for Southampton and the New Forest, Grahame Short, said: “The evidence is relatively straight forward. He fell down a series of nine steps hitting a hard surface at the bottom and causing a fracture of his upper spinal vertebrae.”

Mr Crease’s son, also Ronald, of Larch Road, said his father lived with his wife of 73 years, who he cared for due to her lack of mobility. He added that, despite complaining about his legs, his father was an avid gardener.

Consultant histopathologist at Southampton General Hospital, Vidhi Bhargava, said Mr Crease was shown to have been suffering with undiagnosed “widespread tumours”.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Short added: “It was interesting to note the cancer he was unaware of. I don’t think that directly contributed but no doubt it didn’t help and he was weakened by that.

“Can I give you and, indeed, your mother my sympathy. I’m sure in her case she must find this very difficult and he was obviously trying to keep going.”