A “much-loved” father and devoted dog-owner died after falling down his stairs at home, an inquest has heard. 

Kevin Barnetson has been described as “a Dereham boy through and through” and has left a hole in his local community following his death. 

The 66-year-old was a well-known character within his mid-Norfolk hometown and would been seen walking his best friend, his springer spaniel companion Jack, every day. 

His daughter, Hayley Barnard, who attended the inquest at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, April 26, said in her statement that they would speak over the phone twice a week. 

She added: “He was a talented plasterer and liked to make a load of mess behind him. He was able to put his hand to anything. He had recently retired but still did odd jobs. 

“His little dog, Jack, was his world and he would walk him through the town every day. He would also walk into town for a glass or two of red wine and a meal at his local. 

Eastern Daily Press: Kevin Barneston enjoyed visiting The Red Lion in DerehamKevin Barneston enjoyed visiting The Red Lion in Dereham (Image: Colin Collis)

“He was a private yet sociable man who enjoyed catching up with family and his large circle of friends.” 

The court also heard how the divorcee, of Wellington Road, had struggled with his mobility following a road traffic accident with a lorry 15 years ago.  

On the morning of August 27, 2022, his landlord, Richard Sturman, had “sensed something was wrong” when he had been unable to contact Mr Barnetson. 

Mr Sturman, who had known Mr Barnetson for 54 years, arrived at his tenant's flat in Wellington Road but said “instinct told me something was not right”. 

He was able to gain entry via an open window and once inside the flat, he had found Mr Barneston at the bottom of the stairs with a head injury. His dog Jack was with him.  

Police and paramedics were called to the scene and he was pronounced dead.  

READ MORE: Norwich tot's family fighting back after son's diagnosed of heart failure

He added: “He was a nice guy, well known around the town, and a good plaster back in the day.” 

Due to the circumstances surrounding his death, a police investigation was launched but it concluded that no one else had been involved in his death. 

A Home Office post mortem found that he had suffered a severe head injury, including a trauma to the brain, believed to be caused by a fall down stairs. 

The medical cause of death was given as a head injury. 

A toxicology report also found “high levels of alcohol in his blood” which could have caused unsteadiness. A suspected episode of low blood pressure may also have contributed. 

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk Coroner's CourtNorfolk Coroner's Court

Assistant coroner for Norfolk, Samantha Gowward, recorded a conclusion of an “accident”. 

Kevin Peter Barnetson was born on November 19, 1955, in Norwich. 

His funeral took place at Breckland Crematorium on Monday, October 17, where donations were raised for The Dogs Trust and East Anglian Air Ambulance. 

Following his death, his friend Kiera Mcpherson, who works at The Red Lion, organised a fundraiser via Go Fund Me. 

Paying tribute to Mr Barnetson, she said: “He was an incredible, bubbly, happy man who loved everyone.  

“He came to see us all at work every night without fail.  

READ MORE: To read the EDP's most recent death announcements click here.

“Jack, his beautiful dog, was by his side every single night. Everyone who knew Kevin, knew that Jack was his best friend and they were a team. 

“Jack would sit right by his feet and always have a ball in his mouth. 

"We loved hearing all his memories of what he had been up to in the day, and we always said he was the highlight of our night seeing him smile.”