Dr Who director died after Debenhams fall

Debenhams in Banbury
Debenhams in Banbury

The death of a former Doctor Who director who fell down an escalator in Banbury was an accident, a coroner has ruled.

Christopher Barry, 88, of East End, Hook Norton, died in hospital on February 7 this year, just hours after falling down an escalator at Debenhams in Castle Quay shopping centre.

An inquest held at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court last Thursday heard how Mr Barry – who worked on the BBC show between 1963 and 1979 – was taken to Horton General Hospital via ambulance. He suddenly stopped breathing and doctors were unable to revive him.

A post-mortem revealed the cause of his death was a fractured pelvis and coronary heart disease.

The pathologist, Dr Lucie Winter, said it was not possible to establish whether a cardiac event happened before the fall or after.

Assistant coroner Nicholas Graham said: “The difficulty is understanding whether the cardiac event precipitated the fall, or whether it happened as a consequence of the fall. It is frustrating we can’t separate them out.” CCTV findings found Mr Barry was alone when he stepped onto the escalator, carrying a bag of shopping, but the footage was not clear enough to see what happened after.

His son Robin Barry said his father was very active right up until his death and had even driven to France recently.

Mr Graham said: “I think this is a case of what we would call an accidental death. It was an unforeseen event with tragic consequences. This was an accidental death after a fall on an escalator in Debenhams.

“Mr Barry was taken to hospital where he died soon after from complications arising from his injuries.”

He added the conclusion should not imply negligence on anybody’s part.

A statement from Hook Norton Parish Council said: “In Hook Norton Christopher was known for his liberal humanitarianism, wit and intelligence.

“Over the more than 20 years he spent in retirement in Hook Norton, Christopher and his wife Venice were active members of the community, members of the Film Society and Literature Society, and took a keen interest in the development of the village, its architecture and ecology.

“In his time as chairman of the parish council, he was a staunch advocate of local democracy, abhorred bureaucratic obfuscation, and stood up for the voice of the common man in a world where it often seemed no-one was listening.”