A PENSIONER was arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife after she drunkenly fell down the stairs, an inquest has heard.

Alan Hoskins, 71, was taken in for questioning after his wife Janet Hoskins, 67, was found at the foot of their staircase with a head injury, only for police to drop their investigation eight months later.

An inquest was told 14st Ms Hoskins lost her footing after spending the day drinking sparkling wine and brandy with her husband at their home in Nelson, Caerphilly.

The couple’s adult son told the coroner’s court in Newport his parents were “functioning alcoholics” who would start drinking wine in the afternoons before moving to “harder stuff” in evenings.


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The court heard how Mr Hoskins had fallen asleep in his armchair on the afternoon of May 8 last year after the drinking session, only to wake up to find his wife lying motionless halfway up their stairs with blood around her head.

He later told police it was not uncommon for his wife to fall down after drinking, and so pulled her by her ankles to the bottom of the staircase and left her there while he returned to his armchair for another sleep.

But after awakening again around 10pm that evening, he became “concerned” that his wife still had not moved and called for an ambulance.

Paramedic Sian Griffiths said in a statement she found Mrs Hoskins lying in a foetal position with her head to one side, and gave her opinion the woman had been dead for around an hour.

She said Mr Hoskins said he had put out a mattress for his wife during previous falling episodes down the stairs to “make her feel comfortable”, adding that she thought he appeared to be unsteady on his feet and speech “not slurred, but not crisp”.

PC Bradley Lewis said Mr Hoskins told him he had not made an attempt to check his wife’s breathing or pulse after finding her on the stairs.

PC Lewis said: “I believed the circumstances surrounding the death could be suspicious so I started to search the property.”

Despite finding “nothing of concern” the officer said he then arrested and cautioned Mr Hoskins on suspicion of murder and took him to the police station before releasing him under investigation.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hope told the hearing the investigation was closed in early January this year, having determined there was no evidence of any third party involvement.

He said neighbours had complained of hearing the couple argue previously but not on the day of the incident.

Son Christopher Hoskins told the court the couple slept in separate bedrooms, with his mother usually being “verbally aggressive and the instigator” of rows.

He said his mother would also take his father’s glasses off him and his hearing aid while he slept before refusing to tell him where she hid them.

Pathologist Dr Deryk James said Mrs Hoskins had suffered a three centimetre split to the right side of the back of her head as well as other cuts and bruises.

He gave a medical cause of death as alcohol intoxication and concussive head injury.

Assistant coroner for Gwent, Sarah Le Fevre, said she accepted the cause of death, and noted that Ms Hoskins had 278 milligrams per decilitre of alcohol in her blood.

She said: “It’s clear that it’s the fall itself that was the direct cause of Janet’s death.

“The fall was caused by alcohol.”