Published: 06:00, 11 July 2019
It will never be known exactly how window-cleaner Simon Smith came to fall from a fourth-floor window, as there were no witnesses.
But on the balance of probabilities it was just a tragic accident, an inquest jury concluded.
Mr Smith, who was 44, was a self-employed window cleaner who had carried out his business in Deal for many years.
He cleaned the windows of many flats at the sea-front facing apartment block known as The Queens in Ranelagh Road.
One of his customers there was Alistair Campbell, in his 80s, who lived with his wife at an apartment on the 4th floor, which was on the fifth level of the six-storey block.
Usually Mr Smith cleaned the windows in the flat every five weeks on a Tuesday, but on Monday, March 4, he arrived unexpectedly at the flat and asked to clean the windows as he had a lot of work on and wanted to get ahead.
Mr Campbell let him in and Mr Smith began cleaning the windows in the bedroom, while Mr Campbell went to the kitchen to make him a cup of coffee.
Mr Campbell described to police he then heard an extremely loud crash, which he identified as coming from outside the building.
He did not immediately associate the noise with Mr Smith, but instead took the coffee through to the bedroom where he found the window open and Mr Smith disappeared.
Mr Smith was subsequently found 42ft below on the grating covering an underground car park. He had severe head injuries.
He was taken to King College Hospital in London where, despite the best efforts of doctors, he died 11 days later.
Mr Smith who was born in Deal and lived at Cannon Street was a Jehovah's Witness.
The inquest was read a statement by George Brown, who also occasionally cleaned windows at The Queens.
He said he had met Mr Smith seven months earlier at a Jehovah’s Witness congregation.
He and his wife had become good friends with Mr Smith and his wife Sandra.
He said the windows in the block rotated through 180 degrees so that it was possible to clean the outside of the window from the inside without in any way leaning out the window.
However, he said: "You do need to stay focussed, especially on a windy day."
Kevin Golding, an acting principal inspector with the Health and Safety Executive said he had examined the window and found it to be performing correctly.
It was opened with a handle, but a catch prevented it from opening beyond a few degrees.
That catch could then be over-ridden to allow the windows to rotate for cleaning purposes.
The window ledge was 76cm off the ground, just below waist-height for Mr Smith, who had been 5ft 11ins.
Both Mr Golding and DS Steve Mart, a police officer who attended the scene, gave evidence that it had been a breezy day.
A post mortem revealed no evidence that Mr Smith had any other medical condition that might account for the fall.
Coroner Alan Blunsdon explained the various options open to the jury of five men and six women.
After a 45-minute adjournment, they reached a conclusion of accidental death.
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