After a night out drinking with friends, wheelchair user David Henley, 43, mistook an exit for a wheelchair ramp and fell to his death down a flight of steps.

An inquest heard how Henley, a local council worker, had been a regular at the Grange Moor Hotel in Kent. But on this occasion, in February last year, he was the victim of accidental death, said coroner Alison Grief. Given that there were only six steps, anyone typically falling down would be expected to sustain only minor injuries.

Henley died when blood and vomit entered his lungs after medics had tried to help him. He was found to be almost three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving.

The coroner said that even though there was no sign on the door that Henley used, the hotel was not to blame in any way and could not be held responsible under health and safety legislation. "I am satisfied that his death was the result of tragic circumstances following an enjoyable evening," Grief said.

Hotel director Hsaio Gibbons said that he had looked over the CCTV footage a number of times but could not work out why Henley had not just used the same doors to leave as when he arrived.

The family expressed sadness at what had happened but said he was with good friends on his final evening and they now wanted the matter closed. They said that everyone had drunk a lot that evening.

Excessive drinking has been linked to an estimated 33,000 deaths a year in the UK and is said to cost the NHS up to £3billion a year.