A FORMER pub owner was found dead by his gardener after a freak accident while cutting down tree branches.

Giles Stone had set up the ropes around his waist in the garden of his home at Bishop’s Road in Hove in August this year.

But somehow the ropes coiled around him, and he was later found hanged.

An inquest into the 53-year-old’s death concluded it was a “tragic” accident that was “sudden and unexpected”.

In tributes, his family described him as a loving and caring man who was well known and popular in Hove.

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley was told that gardener Simon Reddick had arranged to meet Mr Stone that afternoon.

Mr Stone, who used to run the Crown and Anchor in Shoreham High Street, had discussed the option to remove a canopy layer to let more light into his garden.

But Mr Reddick said he believed it was only a “musing” rather than a definite plan, and had not been instructed to carry out the work.

At the inquest, Mr Stone’s family were shown a list that suggested Mr Stone took the decision to chop the branches, and had even taken safety steps more commonly used by tree surgeons to stay safe.

The gardener was in shock, but called for paramedics and also found Eric Smith in the street to help.

At the inquest Mr Smith said: “A lot of effort had gone into securing the ladders, everything possible to make it safe had been done.

“I went into the garden, and it took me a few moments to see where he was. I knew instantly that it was too late.

“I just believe it was a tragic accident.”

The coroner told both men there was nothing more they could have done.

She said: “This is such a tragic and unusual situation. It was reported to me because it was a sudden and unexpected death, not from natural causes.

“It’s happened in some bizarre way, he may have slipped on the rope and it wrapped itself around his neck twice.

“He had set it up very carefully. He was working very hard to be safe. Then for some reason that no one can ascertain, something happened, he slipped or fell and the rope that was supposed to make him safe has in fact acted as the mechanism from which, effectively, he has died.”