Man `died as he used his mobile phone'

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The Independent Online
AN ITALIAN welder who plunged to his death after climbing on to a hotel roof may have been trying to get a signal on his mobile telephone, an inquest heard yesterday.

Christiano Bettineschi, 38, who had been drinking with fellow workers in the restaurant of the hotel, had become increasingly frustrated by a lack of reception on his phone. He had become so annoyed that fellow diners saw him banging the mobile on a table after trying in vain to get a signal.

Yesterday, an inquest in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, was told that Mr Bettineschi had gone up to the roof of the hotel after letting himself out of a fire exit. But he lost his footing and plunged 50 feet to the ground outside The George Hotel in Huddersfield. The inquest was told that police found his shattered mobile lying by his side on the pavement.

The coroner, James Turnbull, said that no one could be sure exactly what the man was doing, but added: "Mr Bettineschi may have been using the phone on the roof. It was found broken into several pieces next to him."

The welder, who was working on a two-week contract in England, had been dining with a colleague, Roberto Topparo, and drinking heavily on the night of the accident.

Mr Topparo said Mr Bettineschi carried on drinking and was dialling on his mobile phone but saying the number was always engaged. He eventually left his friend in the bar and was believed to have returned to his room.

David Haigh, a taxi controller in Huddersfield, discovered the severely injured man lying face down on the pavement.

He said: "I heard something... and I went to the top of the street and saw a body laid across the road."

Mr Bettineschi died later that night. Pathologist Dr John Clark said the man, who had three times the legal alcohol driving limit in his blood, had died of serious head injuries.

Mr Bettineschi's brother, Giovanni, told the inquest: "My brother drank heavily. He was a very quiet, timid man when he was sober, but he became irrational in drink."

Detective Sergeant John Gilbody told the hearing that a fire exit on the hotel roof had been found open and it was likely that Mr Bettineschi had gone through it to get on to the roof. A mortice lock has since been fitted to the door.

Mr Bettineschi, who came from Brescia, Italy, came to England on 24 February to work for Aurora Marble in Dalton, West Yorkshire.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner said: "When he fell he had a mobile phone that was not in his pocket. I might assume it was held in his hand. He may have been there because the reception was inadequate, but he did not confine himself to the fire escape but progressed a substantial way around the parapet away from the fire escape.

"Why he was doing that is a matter we shall never know."