A popular binman tragically died after falling down the stairs, an inquest heard.

Stuart Hughes, 57, died at his home on Crummock Avenue, Whitehaven, on August 26 last year.

He was discovered at the bottom of his stairs after concerned neighbours raised the alarm.

Cockermouth Coroner's Court heard that the day before his death, Mr Hughes had phoned his cousin’s partner, Frank Acton, to ask if he wanted to go to pub. He declined and this was the last time he spoke to Mr Hughes.

At around 11.30pm that evening, Mr Acton, who lived nearby, noticed Mr Hughes’ blinds were closed. The following morning, he saw the blinds were still shut and assumed he was having a lie-in, however, he thought it was strange when they were still closed at 4.15pm.

He phoned Mr Hughes’ mobile, which went to voicemail, so went over to his house to check on him. Mr Acton said the door was unlocked but he could only open it a few inches because it was blocked by Mr Hughes’ legs.

Mr Acton became very concerned and went next door to get help from a neighbour, Mark Winter, who went round to the house. He was also unable to open the door more than a couple of inches so phoned the emergency services.

When police arrived at the property, they managed to gain access and discovered Mr Hughes lying at the bottom of the stairs. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

A post-mortem revealed Mr Hughes had suffered a fractured skull consistent with trauma and a brain haemorrhage. A toxicology report showed Mr Hughes had 76mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal driving limit is 80mg.

Coroner Simon Ward gave a cause of death as brain haemorrhage due to trauma and concluded that Mr Hughes’ death was an accident.

Mr Hughes was born in Workington and lived on Crummock Avenue since his childhood. He attended Kells Infant School and Monkwray Junior School, then White School, Kells.

He had worked as a binman with Copeland Council for 25 years. He had no spouse or children but was close to his cousins.Mr Hughes was also a devoted Liverpool FC fan and rarely missed a game.

At his funeral, refuse wagons provided a guard of honour and mourners wore Liverpool FC shirts or colours.

Speaking after his death, his cousin, Guy Clifford, said Mr Hughes was a “very happy man” who always had a positive outlook on life.

“He liked to socialise and loved his family. He loved all the kids and he didn’t miss Christmas or birthdays. He was a massive Liverpool fan, and I mean massive.

“He always had a smile on his face. Nothing’s ever knocked him. He will be very sadly missed by all the family.”