Fall killed doctor, coroner finds


The death of a retired Napier doctor in his home four months ago was caused by a fall while alone in the house, a coroner has determined.

Eastern region coroner Chris Devonport has made the finding in a report on the death of James David Ross Elliott, who was 68.

Dr Elliott was found dead on the stairs of his home in Hornsey Rd, Bluff Hill, during a visit by his wife, from whom he had been legally separated, and an investigation mounted by police found no suspicious circumstances, the coroner said.

He was told that despite the separation Dr and Mrs Elliott kept in contact, and Mrs Elliott last saw her husband alive early on the evening of May 5.

Unable to contact him by phone two nights later, she went to the house on her way to work on May 8. Noticing uncollected newspapers on the driveway, she found a hidden spare key, entered the house and found Dr Elliott in the stairs near the door.

A pathologist found he had suffered various injuries to his head, neck and torso, including skull fractures and brain damage.

His blood was found to contain 125mg of alcohol per 100ml (which compares with the legal driving limit of 80mg), and Mr Devonport said Mrs Elliott's evidence was that her husband was a "big drinker" who increased his alcohol consumption after retiring from practice two years before he died.

The doctor's son, also a medical practitioner, was aware of falls by his father, and considered them due to a combination of alcohol consumption and loss of balance as his weight increased and his movements slowed after his retirement.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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