An award-winning chef died when he fell down a flight of steps after walking through an unlocked door at a pub, an inquest heard.
Andrew O’Hara, 43, was found face-down in the cellar of the St Helens Inn on Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, last winter.
My son’s death has devastated this family. We will always miss him.William O’Hara
Mr O’Hara’s father paid an emotional tribute to his son during his inquest at Chesterfield coroners’ court on Thursday.
Andrew Little, landlord of the St Helens Inn, told the court how CCTV footage showed Mr O’Hara entering the pub at about 11.30pm on Friday, November 28.
About an hour later, Mr O’Hara went to the toilet then came out looking “worse for wear” and unsteady on his feet, according to Mr Little.
He said the CCTV footage showed Mr O’Hara opening the unlocked cellar door – which had a ‘private’ sign on it – at about 12.30am on Saturday, November 29.
Shortly after 8am, the pub’s cleaner woke Mr Little to tell him she had discovered a man in the cellar.
He found Mr O’Hara, of Sherbourne Avenue, Chesterfield, at the bottom of the steps and alerted paramedics who pronounced him dead at about 8.25am.
Mr Little told the court this was the first time a customer had walked through the unlocked door and that staff knew to stop people from going into the cellar if they ever saw this happening.
He said a padlock had previously been used on the cellar door but it had been stolen.
Mr Little told the court he had made changes since Mr O’Hara’s death – including placing a sign saying ‘no entry, staff only’ on the cellar door.
But he said the door remains unlocked so staff can easily and safely open and close it when carrying items – including beer – from the cellar.
Post-mortem results revealed Mr O’Hara suffered a fractured skull and cerebral concussion in the fall and that he was almost four times over the legal driving limit when he fell.
In a heartfelt tribute, Mr O’Hara’s father William said: “Andrew was a very kind guy and loved by so many people.
“He was a very talented chef and worked his way up the ranks to become a head chef. He was voted chef of the year by Hilton for two years running.
“My son’s death has devastated this family.
“We will always miss him.”
PC Lee Taylor, of Derbyshire police, confirmed there was no third party involvement in Mr O’Hara’s death.
A jury concluded his death had been accidental.
Outside the court, Mr O’Hara’s family said the cellar door at the St Helens Inn should be locked to prevent a similar death.