A DAD-OF-SIX lay dead in his blood-stained flat for nine days, an inquest heard.
Mystery surrounded the circumstances in which James Wallace, 54, was found at his home in Wensleydale Street, Hartlepool, and police launched an extensive probe.
There had been a suggestion he had told police he was being harrassed for money, and there was also a 999 call made from his mobile phone which was abandoned two weeks before his death.
But after a major investigation involving tracing Mr Wallace’s last movements, house-to-house inquiries, CCTV and mobile phone analysis, an inquest into his death ruled out any foul play.
Hartlepool Coroner’s Court heard concerned neighbours contacted Mr Wallace’s landlord, Endeavour Housing, on August 22 last year, having not seen him for a week.
Endeavour Housing then contacted police and uniformed officers had to force entry.
Mr Wallace, a window cleaner, was found face down near his settee and blood was found in various places, including the settee and on internal doors.
Officers from CID were drafted in and the scene was secured as a potential crime scene.
Town coroner Malcolm Donnelly told the inquest there was no sign of forced entry or a disturbance, and suggested Mr Wallace had injured himself in a fall in his house.
He said: “It could be interpreted as consistent with a person staggering around the room.”
Mr Donnelly said inquiries were made into Mr Wallace’s lifestyle and it appeared he had a “drink issue”.
Detective Sergeant Joanne Wright added: “I’m more than satisfied that nothing suspicious happened and there was no third party involvement.”
Forensic pathologist Mark Egan said there was a large number of injuries including cuts to the head, and some injuries suggested Mr Wallace had been moving around on his hands and knees.
He added that Mr Wallace had moderate coronary artery disease and this could have made him more susceptible to the effects of blood loss.
Forensic scientist Sammy Warner, who specialises in analysis of blood patterns, said there were no obvious signs of an assault at the flat.
Mr Donnelly added: “I think he banged his head as a result of an accident, we don’t know precisely where, we never will.”
He recorded a verdict of accidental death.
After the hearing, Mr Wallace’s family said they were satisfied with the ruling.
Michael Wallace said: “There were doubts, but the experts couldn’t have done any better.”
Mr Wallace’s daughter Caroline said: “I feel lots better now that we know.”