A HEREFORD inquest has ruled out any “negative” third party involvement in the death of a 78-year-old Ross-on-Wye woman.

Care home manager Ann Fletcher was found lying at the foot of the stairs in her home at Laburnum Close last May.

An injured man was on the floor beside her. Concerned at what appeared a “strange situation," paramedics decided to call the police.

Daniel Fletcher had discovered his grandmother in the hallway, and saw an elderly man lying in the lounge doorway.

He ran into the street and summoned help from neighbours.

Paramedic Alan Lane told the inquest it was an unusual scenario.

“You don’t go to that many accidents like that,” he said. “There was enough worry to call the police.”

He said it appeared that Mrs Fletcher had “tumbled down the stairs” and no pulse could be detected.

She had suffered multiple injuries and her fractured denture plate was blocking her airway.

“The elderly man was sitting in a chair cuddling her and seemed quite bewildered,” said Mr Lane.

“I don’t think he realised his partner was lying there at all.”

The crew was told that he suffered from dementia and had had a recent fall. A second ambulance crew was summoned to assist him.

In a statement, Mrs Fletcher’s son, Mark said that his mother, a widow, and her neighbour, Charlie Jones had developed a relationship.

On the day before her death, she and Mr Jones had visited the seaside.

“I know Charlie had fallen a few times and couldn’t pick himself up,” said Mr Fletcher. “I sometimes felt that mum needed to look after herself as well as Charlie.”

Detective Inspector Mark Peters believed Mrs Fletcher had not died as a result of a fall down the stairs.

“The stairs were very steep and narrow, and a pair of neatly placed shoes and china ornaments were undisturbed,” he said. “I believe she’d fallen where she stood.”

After a visit to Mr Jones in hospital it was concluded that he was “almost lacking capacity”.

Coroner Mark Bricknell said there was no suggestion of third party involvement and ruled Mrs Fletcher’s death as accidental.