AN ELDERLY man who died after tripping over uneven paving “should still be here today”, an inquest heard.

Neil Francis Hargreaves, 93, was walking to an appointment at Totton Specsavers in Commercial Road back in June. Just metres from the destination his three-wheeled walker was caught in the underfoot, causing it to tip and him to fall with it.

His wife Gillian, who witnessed the fall, said: “I can’t help but feel as if Neil should still be with us today. When the fall happened, someone from Lloyds bank came out and told us that it happens all the time, to the young and the old, and that they’d never seen anyone fix it.”

The pensioner’s head hit the floor with force, causing him to break two small bones in his neck. He was taken to Southampton General Hospital where he died five days later.

Mrs Hargreaves added: “It wasn’t just one or two of the pavement bricks, it was quite a few of them that were loose. They looked perfectly fine, but when somebody walked on them they would pop up.

“It would have been different if they had been repaired. Neil’s brain was well for his age, he was quite lucky.”

The area of Commercial Road where Mr Hargreaves fell had been inspected by Hampshire County Council’s highway department in May – just a month before the incident. Nothing was found that breached the departments’ safety regulations.

Highway manager Richard Bastow said: “The inspector who looked at the area is very experienced and diligent. It is a wide footway and it might have been that he didn’t walk across the loose blocks, and as we heard they were not visibly out of place.

“There’s a lot of foot traffic in the area and it is possible the blocks were subject to quick deterioration.”

Whilst in hospital, Mr Hargreaves, of Douglas Way, Hythe, had pneumonia. The fall had made it hard for him to breath and swallow, which is likely to have contributed to the illness.

Senior coroner Chris Wilkinson concluded an accidental death.