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A LECTURER and a highly-respected academic who had been drinking heavily fell down the stairs and fractured his skull, an inquest heard.

Dean Madden, director of the National Centre for Biotechnology Education at the University of Reading, was found 48 hours after his fall, with emergency services unable to gain entry to his home because he was laying against the front door.

One of his neighbours could see him 'slumped' at the bottom of the stairs with 'purple arms' and when police broke into his Tilehurst home, he was found in his Sunday gardening clothes on January 31.

Dozens of people from all over the world attended the 56-year-old scientist's funeral and his sister Stella Dawson described him as a man who touched and inspired many lives.

She said: "Judging by the number of people that turned up to his funeral, it is clear that many people loved and cared from him.

"He was certainly a character. People came from far and wide to be at his funeral and he influenced the lives of many people."

Madden, who was the director of the National Centre for Biotechnology Education, lived alone at his home on Recreation Road.

He did not turn up for work the next day and was not found until his neighbour noticed a light had been left on.

As he looked through the window he could see the lecturer in a heap at the bottom of the stairs with his head resting against the door.

A toxicology report found he was more than two times above the drink-driving limit and the post-mortem revealed multiple skull fractures.

Alison McCormick, assistant coroner for Berkshire, decided his death was accidental and attributed to the alcohol found in his blood.

She added: "It is quite clear in this case that he banged his head, causing substantial head trauma.

"He was found with significant levels of alcohol in his blood.

"He had a stressful job but there is no reason to believe this was the cause of his drinking. It is likely he died on the Sunday and was not found until Tuesday morning."

For an obituary of Mr Madden, click here