A MAN at the centre of a murder probe died after falling down the stairs while more than four times the drink-drive limit, an inquest heard.

Peter Dunnings was found at the bottom of the stairs by his wife at their home in Boundary Road, Bursledon, in the early hours of December 3, last year.

As previously reported, Hampshire Constabulary launched a murder probe following the 73-year-old’s death, with his wife Carole and step-son Anthony Fuller being arrested on suspicion of murder.

Appearing at Winchester Coroner’s Court, DS Fiona Holland confirmed the pair had been arrested following in inconsistencies in what police had been told, but later said no further action was taken.

The inquest heard the 73-year-old had gone to bed the previous evening and got up during the night. His wife said she heard a bang, but went back to sleep. Waking up again at around 12.30am, she found her husband at the bottom of the stairs.

Mrs Dunnings told the inquest she called an ambulance and performed CPR, but was unable to revive him.

She confirmed that Mr Dunnings had become alcohol dependant in the lead-up to his death.

Home Office forensic pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said Mr Dunnings had a blood-alcohol level near the potentially fatal range, with “well advanced cirrhosis of the liver in a pattern that is well in keeping with alcohol abuse”.

Dr Purdue added Mr Dunnings had a cut on his head, but no serious head injuries were found. He gave a cause of death of the combined effects of acute alcohol intoxication and a minor head injury.

Recording a conclusion of an accidental fall, senior coroner Grahame Short said: “It would be fair to say he was not in good health.

“Sometime before midnight I believe Peter got out of bed and walked out of the bedroom. What happened next is uncertain.”