AN 80-year-old man fell to his death from a hotel balcony in Malta as he stepped out to get some fresh air, an inquest heard.

Ted Foote was recovering in a hotel in Valletta after suffering a stroke on board a cruise ship when the tragic accident happened.

Mr Foote, a well-known north Dorset businessman, was enjoying a P&O cruise with his wife, Vivian, when he was taken ill on board, a Bournemouth inquest was told.

Mrs Foote, of Marnhull, told the inquest: "We were in the theatre on the ship watching a comedian. I turned to Ted to share the joke and realised something was wrong. He had had two strokes before so I knew it was another one."

Assistant Dorset Coroner Richard Middleton heard Mr Foote was treated on board the ship before being taken to hospital by an ambulance waiting for the ship to dock in Valletta.

He spent around 10 days in hospital while Mrs Foote stayed at the Vivaldi Hotel nearby.

After being discharged from hospital, Mr Foote joined her at the hotel where they stayed for a few days.

Mrs Foote added: "When my husband woke up he said he was hot so I opened the door on to the balcony. I turned round to get his pills ready and when I turned back he was over the balcony. There was no shout."

Mrs Foote told the coroner the balcony was shallow with low railings. Her husband was 6ft 3ins tall and she believes he may have tripped or had another stroke as he stepped out from the bedroom.

The inquest heard Mr Foote died on the pavement outside the hotel on November 25 last year despite falling only from the first floor. He suffered a fractured skull and a ruptured lung.

Mr Foote ran a paving company before he retired and was a vintage motor cycle enthusiast. He and Mrs Foote have one daughter who lives in America with her family.

Mr Middleton concluded that he died as the result of an accident.