A PATHOLOGIST said yesterday he was "horrified" when he realised he had wrongly concluded a man who died from a blow to the head was a stroke victim.
Heavy drinker Frankie Williams, 42, had 16 grazes and bruises on his head and face when he was found dead in his flat in Birkenhead, in 1999.
Dr Martin Gillett failed to notice bruises and said Mr Williams had had a stroke.
It was only when the dead man's family complained that a second post-mortem was carried out by a Home Office pathologist.
She concluded Mr Williams died of a brain haemorrhage, caused by a fight or fall.
Dr Gillett was at the second day of a serious professional misconduct hearing of the General Medical Council in Manchester.
He admits failing to notice the head injuries and to making an "unreasonable" conclusion about the cause of death, but denies serious professional misconduct.
Dr Gillett, who has carried out 100 post mortems a year since 1981, said in evidence yesterday he was "horrified" at his mistake.
"My recollection was being horrified at what I had appeared to have missed," he said.
"I thought to myself, 'How could I have possibly not seen these or recorded them'?"
Dr Gillett, of West Kirby, Wirral, had already carried out three post mortems before examining Mr Williams's body, and said it had been an unusually busy morning.
He said: "It wasn't completely unusual to carry out four post mortems on one morning. It can sometimes be that busy but it is unusual to get four complex cases together on one morning.
"I have looked back over my career to see if I had had a more complex morning in the mortuary and I couldn't find one in terms of the complexity and variety of post mortems."
Dr Gillett also said he was not told of any suspicious circumstances before Mr Williams's post mortem.
He added: "The coroner's officer was insistent there were no suspicious circumstances pertaining to this man's death."
The hearing is expected to finish today.