Weightlifter's death was accidental

A fitness fan died after he became trapped under a 40kg weight-lifting bar following a late-night drinking session, an inquest has heard.

Christopher Bailey was found lying on a weights bench on May 19 this year by his landlord, Oliver Steer, in a garage of the house they shared in Mill Close, Portslade, East Sussex.

The Brighton hearing was told that Mr Bailey had been drinking Jack Daniels with Mr Steer and another tenant, Kevin Mare, until the early hours.

During the night Mr Mare had drunkenly called the police saying that Mr Bailey was "badgering'' him over the location of a bottle of the bourbon, the inquest heard.

But it was at about 12.50pm that day that Mr Steer found Mr Bailey on the weights bench trapped with the bar compressing his neck.

The 57-year-old managed to remove the bar and attempted to resuscitate Mr Bailey on the instruction of the 999 call handler, but the inquest heard that he had been dead for several hours.

Describing the discovery of his tenant, Mr Steer said: "I saw Chris lying back on his weight-bench, as soon as I saw him, his face and colour of his lips, I knew something wasn't right.

"I screamed and called his name. I lifted the weights from his chest and called 999.

"They told me to go back and do CPR, I did but he was completely cold and not responding.

"I carried on for a few minutes but I knew he was dead.''

Mr Steer added that Mr Bailey had bought the weight-lifting equipment about six weeks earlier and had cancelled his gym membership.

The inquest heard that a cannabis joint was found burnt out on the floor at the side of Mr Bailey's head with his cigarettes and mobile phone nearby.

The weight-lifting bar was loaded with 15kg of weights on each end with the bar itself weighing 10kg.

A post-mortem examination showed that Mr Bailey, a chef at a bakery, died as a result of compression to the neck.

Toxicology tests also showed that Mr Bailey was, at 274mg per 100ml of blood, three-and-a-half times the drink-drive limit with cannabis also found in his blood.

Pathologist Dr David Wright said: "We are not as strong as we normally are when we have 274mg of alcohol on board, not so co-ordinated.''

Detective Sergeant Mark Rosser, of Sussex Police, added: "Established body builders could lift a lot more than that but for a normal person, 40kg across your throat would be catastrophic.''

The inquest heard that Mr Bailey had talked to his sister Kayleigh Tedford during the evening and she told the inquest he was "fine and happy''.

The family described him as a "loving member of the family'' who stayed in touch since he moved to Brighton from his home city of Nottingham in late 2011.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Brighton coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said: "He has had a good drink, he's decided he's going to lift some weights, which is not a good idea, and he may have got away it.

"What has happened is that bar that is weighing 40kg, which is not lightweight by any account, has come down on his neck for whatever reason, he's not able to move it and that has resulted in neck compression which has slowed his heart down and been the direct cause of his death.''

The coroner concluded by expressing her condolences to the family members present at the inquest.