A FORMER Leigh rugby star died following a tragic accident while having a violent row his wife.

John Westhead, of Thorneycroft, Leigh, bled to death after smashing his arm through a glass door panel after punching his wife Jane, an inquest heard.

Mrs Westhead broke down in tears yesterday as she told a hearing into her husband's death that she had been struck by him twice.

One blow burst her nose and the second gave her a black eye.

She said that he then said, "look what you've made me do now", before punching the glass panel in the living room of their home.

The 34-year-old rugby player severed the main artery in his right arm on the sharp glass fragments.

The father-of-three was taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital where he died 50 minutes later after suffering massive loss of blood on May 29 last year.

A verdict of misadventure was recorded at the inquest.

Mr Westhead was a former Great Britain Under 21 forward who played 136 games for Leigh scoring 25 tries as a loose forward.

The inquest at Leigh town hall heard that Mr Westhead, who was more than six feet tall with a muscular build, had been having "difficulties" with his wife.

Mrs Westhead, 32, said they had an argument during a christening party in a local pub.

She told the inquest: "There was a slight argument. It was short lived."

However when the couple arrived home and had put their two children to bed, another row blew up.

Mr Westhead hit the leaded glass panel with such force that a sharp shard of glass in the door frame punctured his artery at the elbow.

Mrs Westhead fled the house and raised the alarm at a neighbour's house.

Ambulance paramedics found him naked in a pool of blood. Despite frantic efforts to revive him, he had lost all blood pressure and died in hospital.

A post mortem examination revealed he had several cuts up to 4 centimetres long including the one which fatally punctured his artery.

Tests found his blood alcohol level showed he had drunk the equivalent of four pints of beer.

The rugby player, who ran a scaffolding business with his dad, was described by his mother Carol Westhead, of Downall Green Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield, as "very quiet and friendly."

Summing up, coroner Simon Nelson said: "He was well known and a local hero to many young people. It was his intention to resume that career if possible but that was never to be because his life was suddenly cut short by a single injury that he sustained on the morning in question. I don't think alcohol was a factor. It was in frustration as much as anything and being upset which caused him to inflict the self harm."

Mr Westhead made his first team debut in a First Dvision game at home to Barrow on March 13, 1983 coming on as substitute in a 22-13 win.

By the age of 20, he had played 100 senior games for Leigh but he suffered from recurring shoulder problems, eventually ending his career. He had made three appearances for Great Britain under-21s.

Mr Westhead, who left three children Roya, 10, Jilly, two, and Katie, one, was buried in Leigh cemetery.

After the inquest, Mrs Westhead and the family of Mr Westhead declined to speak.