Worthing man’s balcony fall death was accidental, rules coroner

Matthew Avis died after falling from a balcony in Vietnam
Matthew Avis died after falling from a balcony in Vietnam

THE death of a popular travel enthusiast who fell from a hotel balcony in Vietnam was accidental, a coroner ruled.

Matthew Avis, 33, from Rectory Gardens, Worthing, suffered a severe head injury when he fell from his hotel balcony at 3.15am on December 8.

The inquest into his death took place in Centenary House, Durrington, earlier today.

A statement read by coroner’s officer Lyn Ralfe described how Matthew had had a history of sleepwalking since the age of nine, particularly when he was in new places.

She said TV director Matthew would often put obstacles across exits from his bedroom if it was high up.

A post-mortem report from Worthing Hospital’s consultant histopathologist Dr Tijjani Umar said that a lack of injuries to Matthew’s hands and arms suggested there was no attempt to break the fall. He said this would indicate that Matthew was ‘probably’ asleep when he hit the ground.

Matthew’s parents Maggie and Colin, both 61, from Rectory Gardens, attended the inquest.

Speaking to the Herald after coroner for West Sussex Elisabeth Bussey-Jones returned her verdict, they said: “He was always on the go. He very rarely sat down. He was full of life and made friends wherever he went.

“We have lost parents and the feeling of grief is totally different to when it’s your child. You don’t expect to bury your children.

“We didn’t know until the day after. Matt being Matt hadn’t written any next of kin in his passport.

“I just went numb. I couldn’t believe it. I kept expecting him to walk through the door and say ‘hi mum, I’m home’.”

The inquest heard how just hours before his death Matthew had completed a 2,000 kilometre motorcycle trip from Hanoi in the north of Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh in the south. He went out for dinner and drinks with two Canadians, Jackson and Tien, he had met on the trip. Matt returned to the hotel with Jackson, while Tien went to pick up his girlfriend.

Mrs Ralfe told the inquest that Jackson remembered Matthew having more beer at the hotel before he fell asleep.

At 3.15am hostel staff heard a loud noise and went to investigate. They found Matthew lying still on the ground beneath his hotel window.

Despite the emergency services being called and first aid being administered, Matthew died from his injuries in hospital. He was due to return home just days later.

His funeral was held at St Mary’s Church, in Broadwater Road, Broadwater, in January. Some 242 people, including Jackson and other friends from around the world, attended. It was followed by a reception at The Cricketers, in Broadwater Street West, Broadwater, which Maggie described as ‘amazing’.

She said: “It was so lovely being able to meet all his friends. Everyone made themselves known to us and how they knew Matt. We had dozens of cards and on Facebook there were hundreds of messages.

“Jackson amazed us. It’s quite expensive coming from Vietnam to England and he had only known Matt for ten days.”

Maggie and Colin will visit Matthew’s friends in Canada next year.

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