Portsmouth pensioner died alone after falling down the stairs and breaking his back

A SKILLED bricklayer ‘living a solitary existence’ died alone after accidentally falling down the stairs and breaking his back, an inquest has heard.

By Tom Cotterill
Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 1:56 pm

Retired Roger Shawyer, 78, snapped his spine in two places during the tragic tumble at his home in Folkestone Road, Copnor in February.

A hearing at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard how neighbours became concerned on February 6 after having not seen Mr Shawyer for several days.

When police were called to his home at 11.58am, officers found the former bricklayer in a seat near the stairs. He had ‘been there for a couple of days’ said coroner Jason Pegg.

The Coroner's Court - in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, Hampshire. Picture by: Malcolm Wells (180405-3355)

A post-mortem examination, carried out on February 22 by forensic pathologist Dr Brett Lockyer, found Mr Shawyer had suffered two ‘traumatic cervical spinal fractures’.

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Toxicology results revealed that Mr Shawyer had no alcohol in his system when he died.

A police investigation showed a light fitting by the stairs where he fell had been broken and that there was blood on the wall of the stairs, which was attributed to Mr Shawyer hitting his head.

David Lennox, Mr Shawyer’s friend, attended the hearing and described his pal’s death as ‘tragic’.

‘It is no way for someone to go,’ he told The News after the hearing. ‘Roger had a great sense of humour. He was a nice bloke.’

Speaking during the hearing, Mr Lennox described his friend as a ‘loner’ who liked to keep himself to himself.

But he said that Mr Shawyer did enjoy going to the pub, watching football, fishing and racing pigeons.

He added the 78-year-old was a ‘skilled bricklayer’ having spent 13 years of his career helping to restore Fort Nelson’s crumbling flint masonry.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, coroner Jason Pegg said: ‘Roger Shawyer was found on February 6. It seems that on the evidence he had been there perhaps for a couple of days – it’s difficult to determine. It's clear that he had started to decompose.

‘The evidence from Dr (Brett) Lockyer is that the direct cause of death is a traumatic cervical spinal fracture

‘It seems to me, on the evidence before me, that Roger was coming down the stairs, suffered a fall and hit his head on the light fitting.

‘It’s that blow that would have been sufficient to cause these two fractures to his spine, which then led directly to his death.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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