A MAN who was forced to leave home following a row with his wife suffered severe frostbite after moving into a shed at his allotment.

Keith Trail, 52, shivered through temperatures as low as -9C after being told not to return to Ermine Close, Blackburn, because he had raised his fist to Pauline Thornley.

He also had to endure heavy rain while he slept in the tiny hut at Feniscliffe Allotments in Green Lane, which only has room inside for two small chairs and a table.

And after he was charged with assault he missed an appointment with the probation service because he was in hospital receiving treatment.

Trail, who now struggles to walk because of his injuries, has pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife and will be sentenced at a later date.

He is now living in a hostel in Dunoon Drive, Blackburn, because his bail conditions prevent him going home and his wife has filed for a divorce.

Trail said his life had spiralled downwards because of his drinking and he is now unemployed and homeless.

He said he drank large quantities of super-strength cider to numb the pain when he stayed in the shed for a week during the cold spell in January which followed the assault He said: "I am in a really bad way. Living in the shed and sleeping on a chair was a low point and my life is at a low point.

"I drink too much and it is causing great problems for me.

"It was very cold in the shed but I had nowhere else to go and there was nothing else for me to do. No-one would take me in."

Met Office statistics show that the average temperature in East Lancashire in January was just above freezing but overnight temperatures reached as low at minus nine degrees.

Trail is now seeking treatment every other day at Royal Blackburn Hospital for his feet and said doctors have told him that it could be months before his wounds heal.

When he appeared at Blackburn magistrates in connection with his missed probation appointment, Deborah Morgan, defending, said: "He was living in a garden shed during some of the severe weather in January and was diagnosed with frostbite in his hands and feet.

"He was actually taken away from court in an ambulance when he last appeared and was in hospital when he should have attended at the probation office for the preparation of a pre-sentence report Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said the assault charge was brought on the basis that Trail had caused Ms Thornley to fear violence.

She said: "It is accepted that he waved his fist in her face but didn't actually make contact."

After the case, Lancashire Telegraph medical expert Dr Tom Smith said: "Living rough in below-freezing temperatures like this is very dangerous. A big problem is that your body temperature drops very low and stays low, leaving you susceptible not just to the risks of hypothermia and frostbite, but also to infections like pneumonia."

One allotment holder at Feniscliffe said Trail was well known at the site.

The man, who asked not to be named, said: "We all found out that Keith had been sleeping here.

"It is such a sad story. He used to cycle through here on his way home from work and always kept his allotment very tidy.

"I never knew how much of a drinker he was."