A FAMILY has paid tribute to a "wonderful man" who plunged to his death in a disused Bolton church.

Surveyor David Humphries, aged 64, died instantly when he fell 20ft through a covered trap door and landed on the stone floor at Holy Trinity Church, in Trinity Street, Bolton.

Mr Humphries, from Woolton Park, Liverpool, was in the church with another surveyor, from Little Hulton-based builders G & J Seddon, on May 15 last year.

The chartered quantity surveyor, who was the head of a Preston-based firm, had been asked to carry out a cost study of the Grade II listed building for G & J Seddon, which was planning to convert it into apartments.

He sustained fatal head injuries when he fell through the trap door in the first floor of the church bell tower.

The inquest heard it was not known who covered the trap door but that people had been sleeping rough there.

Yesterday, a jury recorded a verdict of accidental death at the end of a two-day inquest at Bolton Coroner's Court.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Humphries' wife of 42-years, Josephine, said: "David was a family man, a wonderful husband and devoted father. He was enthusiastic about life and happy in his job.

"He was easy-going and an optimist and always had a smile on his face - the glass was always half-full. He saw the best in everyone and had a way of bringing people together."

Charles Cottle, a health and safety inspector, said after the inquest: "We need to highlight that there is a proper risk assessment process.

"As we have seen in this tragic case, just being careful isn't always enough."

Coroner Jennifer Leeming said: "We have heard an awful lot about the manner in which Mr Humphries came by his death, but only a tiny bit about his life.

"It seems that he was a very special man and the family must miss him a lot and I give my personal condolences."

Mr Humphries was a keen gardener, musician and marathon-runner, and had been a surveyor for about 45-years.

A devout Christian, he was a member of church choirs and was on the board of governors at Liverpool College.

About 600 people attended his funeral at Liverpool Cathedral.

He had four sons and two grandchildren. Three more grandchildren have been born since his death.