A dearly-loved man described by friends as a "living legend" was killed after almost 50kg of masonry fell on top of him, an inquest had heard.

Peter Westropp, 27, was enjoying an evening out with close friends at Battersea's Le Bouchon Borderlais, in Bolingbroke Grove, on August 11 last year when an awning collapsed.

The rubble narrowly missed three of his friends but struck the chartered surveyor directly on the head causing a "severe" head injury.

Paramedics and trauma experts treated Mr Westropp but his injuries were deemed so serious that he was pronounced dead at the scene less than 30 minutes after the incident.

Harry Pope, who was with his friend at the time, told the inquest how the incident unfolded.

Speaking at North Westminster Coroner's Court, a tearful Mr Pope said: "We had been there for about 15 minutes and Peter had bought some drinks and we were sitting down when we heard a loud noise - it was falling masonry.

"Another friend who was with us, Simon (Mantell), suffered a blow on his shoulder but seemed to be okay.

"But Peter was clearly not okay. I was overcome by emotion, but I could tell it was a very severe injury.

"Another friend Sam (Hufton) was much more lucid and had already started calling an ambulance.

"It was very sudden, there was no warning whatsoever - just one loud noise."

Mr Mantell also described the immediate aftermath of the incident: "I thought someone had fallen on me, it was such a heavy blow to my shoulder. "The chair I was on collapsed and I was suddenly on the floor, covered in dust and rubble.

"I looked at Pete and saw he was leaning towards me across the table.

"His eyes were open but were bloodshot and he was barely conscious and white matter was coming out of his mouth.

"The next time I looked over he was on floor and there was a lot of blood and brain matter."

Mr Hufton told the inquest the group had originally been sat on a different table, away from the awning, but moved once a larger table became clear.

Mr Hufton explained how he tried to attend to his friend.

He said: "I couldn't work out what had happened. The table had collapsed.

" I saw Pete had a blank look on his face. Simon had also been knocked over.

"Then I looked back at Pete and his face was essentially lifeless and at that point I realised he was severely injured.

"I tried to apply pressure to his head but it was such a large open wound, but I'm not a doctor."

The tragedy occurred just two days after last August's civil disorder, where Battersea was one of the worst hit areas in Wandsworth.

Mr Westropp's friends were asked by Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe whether the awning had appeared to had been tampered with or damaged but as far as each witness could recall, it was in normal condition.

Police confirmed that a 999 call had been taken which suggested that a brick had been thrown, which proved incorrect.

A post mortem report said Mr Westropp head was shattered like an "egg-shell" due to the force of the blow from the masonry.

Friends of Mr Westropp, an ardent Arsenal fan, created a plaque after his death which currently lies in the club's memorial hall at The Emirates Stadium.

His father John,also speaking at the inquest, said: "Peter had many friends and they have been cruelly torn apart.

"His death has left a gaping hole in our lives and he is sadly missed by so many people."

The inquest is due to last for days.