A widow has described how her husband died after a fall outside a Norfolk pub, which she blames on a mat left outside while beer kegs were being delivered.

Pauline Smith told Norfolk Coroner’s Court that her husband Roy tripped over the item outside the Feathers, on Gorleston High Street, while they were enjoying their daily walk.

The 87-year-old, of Sycamore Avenue, Bradwell, broke his hip and pelvis and was taken to hospital following the incident on February 8 last year. He died two months later after his health deteriorated.

Mrs Smith said: “Had he not tripped over the mat on the pavement, Roy would be sitting here beside me now, and we would still be enjoying life together.”

However, the drayman who was delivering the beer kegs insists that Mr Smith fell to the ground without tripping on the mat.

A three-day jury inquest into his death started in Norwich yesterday.

Area coroner Samantha Goward told the jurors: “The main issues we need to consider are going to be whether Mr Smith tripped and fell over the rubber mat, which was placed on the pavement outside the pub, or whether he fell before he reached the location of the mat.”

The incident happened while the Smiths were out for a walk together after catching a bus from Bradwell to Gorleston. Walking was a pastime the couple enjoyed almost daily.  

As they headed to Morrisons supermarket, a delivery of beer kegs was taking place outside The Feathers. While walking next to the delivery lorry, Mr Smith fell to the ground. 

He was taken to the nearby James Paget Hospital where he was diagnosed with a hip and pelvis fracture. 

On March 7, Mr Smith was discharged home but four weeks later was taken to the Elms Residential Care Home for respite. He died there on April 8.

Deliveries made to the pub are carried out by GXO Logistics and are not the responsibility of the pub or its staff. At the time of Mr Smith’s fall, no hazard signs were in place. 

In a statement, Mrs Smith said: “I can categorically, 100pc swear on oath, that he tripped over the pad and did not collapse on to it as has been claimed by the delivery drivers.

“I’m not actually sure they even witnessed him tripping and as far as I’m aware they only saw him on the pavement after the incident had happened. 

“He didn’t collapse. He tripped over the pad, or mat.”

She went on to explain that her husband had been in “good physical health” with no history of falls, although she added he had undiagnosed dementia which he did not need medical support for. 

She said: “He led a full and active life, was out every day, tended to his garden, and helped me with the housework. 

“Within a week of being in the hospital, his dementia went off the scale. 

“The doctor explained that the trauma of the fall had exacerbated it.”

She added: "The last ten days of his life, he didn't recognise me and couldn’t even speak."

John Birdseye, the delivery driver and drayman - who has worked for GXO Logistics for 21 years - also gave evidence to the court. 

He said he had delivered to kegs the pub “numerous times” and on that day had carried out the delivery, along with a colleague, as usual. 

He explained that the red mat cushions kegs as they are removed from the lorry and also prevent damage to the ground. 

On the day of the incident, he described how he stopped unloading “immediately and straight away” and stood by the mat when he saw Mr and Mrs Smith.  

He told the court how this practice was typical and ensured the safety of pedestrians. 

Contradicting Mrs Smith’s evidence, he added: “He just got a fraction past me and as he looked to his left to his wife, he seemed to buckle at the waist. He seemed to collapse.” 

The inquest continues.