A FATHER who feared for his safety punched his drug-addled son in self-defence causing him to die from a hemorrhage, an inquest heard.

Daniel Holt had struggled with drug dependency for nearly two decades and was sleeping in a tent at his parent's house before he died on July 19 from a ruptured spleen.

His father Geoffrey was woken and came downstairs to find his 34-year-old son slumped in the kitchen with a crack pipe by his side.

When he refused to leave the house and sleep in his tent, his father delivered a single punch just below the rib cage, causing him to become unresponsive almost instantly.

Paramedics arrived promptly at the scene on Bramshaw Road in Tilehurst and said Daniel had blue lips and had little chance of surviving after being told about the punch.

He was taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital shortly after midnight and had surgery to remove his spleen, but excessive internal bleeding continued due to cirrhosis of the liver.

Alison McCormick, assistant coroner for Berkshire, said a conclusion of unlawful killing would be unfair and that Mr Holt snr acted 'entirely appropriately' given his son's history of violence.

His mother - Denise Hawkins - also gave evidence at the inquest at Reading Town Hall on Thursday and said her son had been verbally abusive in the weeks before his death.

Daniel had been receving intervention for drug abuse ever since the age of 14 and met his partner - Jade Mear - while they were being treated at Prospect Park Hospital.

They had a son together, but he was taken away by social services just four days after he was born.

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It was around this time that Daniel started to drink and take drugs at the same time.

Miss Mear said: "I was using cannabis and he was using heroin, cocaine and alcohol. He introduced me to injecting heroin and crack and my life spiralled out of control.

"The relationship was verbally and physically aggressive. We would often punch each other. It became more violent after our son was taken away from us."

Geoffrey was arrested by police and admitted to punching his son once after fearing that he would attack him.

He was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

The night before he died he came home drenched and refused to change out of his wet clothes and continued to display issues with his anger when his mother tried to help him.

A toxicology report found alcohol, diazapan, methadone and morphine in his blood and his partner said they were spending around £20 every day on drugs.

Surgery initially improved his condition, but he continued to bleed and significant liver disease made it impossible for doctors to operate further.

Recording a narrative conclusion, Ms McCormick added: "He had been under the care of intervention services, but his attendance was inconsistent.

"Daniel could be verbally and physically abusive, but his parents stood by him and his girlfriend after he became homeless.

"The blow which caused his death was delivered in self-defence and a conclusion of unlawful killing cannot be justified.

"Daniel had suffered from cirrhosis of the liver and a single punch caused a traumatic rupture of his spleen from which he died."