A CAR dismantler whose body was found in an industrial unit on Boxing Day died of hypothermia after suffering a head injury.

Anthony Coughill, 34, of Brown Birks Road, Huncoat, was found by his sister’s partner, David Long, at the foot of some stairs in his rented lock-up in Victoria Street, Accrington, after he had failed to turn up for Christmas dinner.

Police at first treated his death as suspicious because of the position in which they found his body but following a post-mortem examination it was discovered he had died of hypothermia and that no third party was involved.

At his inquest on Wednesday, coroner Michael Singleton recorded a verdict of accidental death after hearing evidence from his family, the police and a pathologist.

The court heard that Mr Coughill had begun to rent the industrial unit in 2006 after his previous home in Fountain Street, Accrington, was destroyed in a fire.

He had used the premises to store furniture and a large number of other items he had accumulated over the years.

The coroner heard that a mattress, an old electric blanket and a wardrobe containing clothes was also found in the unit and that it appeared as though Mr Coughill was using it as a temporary base.

The police pinned down the last sighting of Mr Coughill to Friday 19 December, when he was spotted drinking in Accrington town centre.

But his family disputed this, saying they had seen him on 21 December and that they had heard from one of his friends who had seen him on Christmas Eve.

Richard Coughill, Anthony’s brother, said: "I have spoken to one of his friends who said he saw him on Christmas Eve.

"They told me that he was at their house in Royds Avenue and that he fell down the stairs. But they said he felt fine when he left."

Dr Carter, a Home Office pathologist, said: "In my opinion he sustained head injuries sometime before he began suffering from hypothermia.

"After listening to the evidence given here today it would seem credible that Mr Coughill could have fallen down the stairs and been unaware of his injury.

"He had bleeding on the brain which would have caused pressure to build. This would have caused him to become confused, allowing the onset of hypothermia and possibly becoming the cause of another fall in the unit."

* Mr Coughill had worked as a car dismantler for Specialist Breakers Ltd on Victoria Street. Colleagues there raised around £2,000 towards his funeral costs and donated a recovery truck on which he took his final journey to the cemetery. His mum Catherine said at the time: "He was a devoted and wonderful son who loved life and was very close to his family."