The death of an Oxford man with a history of depression could have been accidental, a coroner ruled today.

Francis Gilligan, 54, was found dead by police officers at his flat in Evenlode Tower, Blackbird Leys, in May last year after his family raised the alarm when they were unable to contact him.

An inquest heard the father-of-one, known as Frankie, had been admitted to the city's Littlemore Hospital several times since he was a teenager to treat his bipolar disorder and was a client at Cowley's Acorn Mental Health Centre.

Giving evidence, his sister Audrey Seward, of Spencer Crescent, Rose Hill, said Mr Gilligan had seemed very down in the days before his death and was finding it difficult to cope.

She said: "I was always worried about him but it was not worse than normal.

"He said he thought about committing suicide but he couldn't do it, because he didn't have the guts to do it."

Dr Gareth Turner, a consultant pathologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, said Mr Gilligan's death was probably caused by the combination of his prescription drugs, alcohol and an underlying heart condition.

He added: "Whether or not the drugs were taken intentionally or not is a moot point."

Recording an open verdict, Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner said: "It does seem to me in this case there is room for a small amount of doubt. It may have been an accident."

Speaking after the case, another of Mr Gilligan's sisters, June Newbold, of Williamson Way, Rose Hill, said: "He would never take his own life."