A BIRTHDAY party ended in tragedy when a woman died after she fell downstairs while drunk, a coroner’s court heard.
The death of 67-year-old Pamela Fernandes, from Barnes Lane, Sarisbury Green, was ruled as accidental at an inquest at Winchester Coroner’s Court yesterday.
‘She was very loved and she will be greatly missed.’Daniel Fernandes, from Eastleigh, son of Pamela Fernandes
Senior coroner Grahame Short heard Mrs Fernandes had been staying in a gîte in Saint-Igest, in the Aveyron department of France, when the incident happened in the early hours of June 26.
She was found at the bottom of a set of wooden stairs by her daughter Maria Fernandes at around 7am the morning after the party, held to celebrate Maria’s 42nd birthday.
Mrs Fernandes had hit her head on a protruding piece of stone in the wall and she was bleeding from her ear but conscious when Maria called for help from the emergency services.
Mrs Fernandes was taken to hospital but died on July 4 from the head injury, which pathologist Dr David Gainza said was consistent with falling down stairs.
Mrs Fernandes’ partner of 19 years, Stuart Merry, was also found by Maria on the floor in the same room. He had suffered four fractured ribs, internal bleeding and a collapsed lung.
Mr Merry said he had no recollection of the incident, but believed he had passed out and fallen from his chair, sustaining the injuries as he hit the floor.
He told the coroner that they had both been drinking throughout the day and that he and Mrs Fernandes had stayed up drinking Armagnac after the guests had left and Maria had gone to bed.
Mr Merry has myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular autoimmune disease that affects muscles, which he said has caused him to fall before. He also said that it was usual for them both to drink, but added that there had never been any history of domestic violence between them.
Mrs Fernandes, who used to work at a jazz nightclub when she was younger, was three times the drink-drive limit when the incident happened.
A French police investigation was called off when they found that no offence had been committed.
Coroner Mr Short ruled Mrs Fernandes’ death as accidental and passed his sympathy to all involved.
Mrs Fernandes’ son Daniel Fernandes, from Eastleigh, paid tribute to his mother after the inquest. He said: ‘She was very loved and she will be greatly missed.’