A PENSIONER died after falling from a ladder while renovating his second home.

Michael Helias, 70, fell from top to bottom down a flight of stairs and careered through a bannister at the property in Dover Road, in the Fiveways area of Brighton, on June 20.

An inquest into the death of the father of one heard part of his spinal cord was severed when he hit the bottom of the stairwell.

He had also suffered a gash on his head.

Mr Helias, who was working part time as a technical officer at the University of Brighton, lived in College Lane, Hurstpierpoint, but was doing maintenance work at his second house on his own.

His wife, Christina, became concerned when she had not heard from him so went to the house at about 7pm, Brighton Coroner’s Court heard on Thursday.

When she arrived at the house, she found her husband lying dead on the staircase.

She phoned emergency services, but paramedics confirmed Mr Helias’s death at 7.08pm.

The inquest was told he had suffered a “catastrophic fracture” in his spinal cord.

He had been wearing slippers that appeared to be worn out.

During the inquest, a tribute from Mr Helias’s wife was read to the court.

It said: “Michael was a clever, practical man with a love of nature. There was nothing he couldn’t fix or make. He built racing cars and fixed televisions, when he could, as a business with a friend.

“He had a wonderful, silly sense of humour.

“There is no one else that could understand me the way he did.”

For the majority of his life, Mr Helias had suffered from Addison’s disease, which can weaken muscles.

He also suffered from senile osteoporosis, which leads to an increased risk of fracturing bones.

Coroner Catharine Palmer said Mr Helias’s death was the result of an accident.

She said: “I do find he was a man who loved to do things and took a great deal of pride in what he did.

“He was working on his own in his second home.

“I do find he was working way above head height on the ladder.

“He was in his slippers, which although were on tight, were perhaps not ideal.

“On the balance of probabilities, it is likely he fell from the top of the ladder and through the bannister.

“This would have caused catastrophic injuries – unsurvivable injuries.”

She said his death was caused by a fractured spine sustained after the fall.

Mrs Palmer added the senile osteoporosis contributed to Mr Helias’s death as it had weakened his bones.