THE mystery surrounding the death of a 37-year-old man found unresponsive in his Halliwell flat last year is set to continue after two key witnesses refused to give evidence at the inquest into his death.

Michael Peers lost two litres of blood after suffering a 10cm-long tear in the tissue connecting his organs which a forensic pathologist said was probably caused by a “kicking or stamping”.

But despite two people being arrested in the aftermath of his death on July 22, 2018, no charges were brought, with Mr Peers’ mother saying she felt ‘let down by the justice system’.

On the second day of an inquest into Mr Peers’ death held at Bolton Coroners Court, coroner Rachel Syed called husband and wife Paula Otley and David Wood to give evidence, adding that Ms Otley was the “most critical witness” to attend the hearing.

After confirming that she was a neighbour of Mr Peers at the apartment block on Brownlow Way, Ms Otley said she did not have any issues with him “unless he was drinking”, before adding that it was “not true” that she or her husband had kicked or stamped on him following an argument in the corridor.

But after being told by Ms Syed that under Rule 22 of the Coroners (Inquests) Rules 2013, no witness at an inquest is obliged to answer any question tending to incriminate him or her, Ms Otley refused to answer any more questions.

Mr Wood told Ms Syed that he and Ms Otley were living apart but were still in a relationship, but denied accusations that he was jealous or had assaulted Mr Peers. “I’ve never punched anyone in my life,” he added, before giving “no comment” answers to Ms Syed’s remaining questions.

Mr Peers’ family say that in the hours leading up to his death he had been in contact with them about an incident with his neighbours, naming both Mr Wood and Ms Otley, along with “four smackheads upstairs”.

The hearing also heard from Christian Condron, who told Ms Syed he was a heroin user, who was a neighbour of Mr Peers.

Mr Condron said he did not have a good relationship with Ms Otley who he said was “always complaining” and acted like “she owned the building”.

On the evening of the incident, Mr Condron said he taken heroin and drunk some wine when some friends called around. Unable to open the door for them due to having a tag fitted, Ms Otley had let them in before an argument began about them making noise.

Mr Condron said Mr Peers had come out of his flat and began arguing with her and he saw Ms Otley grab him by the face. Later on a drunken Mr Peers had come up to Mr Condron’s flat to confront him, but Mr Condron refused to fight him. He told Ms Syed that Ms Otley had then visited his flat and showed him some bruising to her hand, giving the impression that there had been a confrontation with Mr Peers, who he did not see again until he showed arriving paramedics to the dead man’s flat where Ms Otley was performing CPR on his body.

Ms Otley was called once more by Ms Syed, but again refused to answer questions.

The inquest continues.