The body of a man who died while enjoying a night out at a restaurant with his son and daughter-in-law was left at the dining table for more than two hours.

The man, who has not been named but was aged 82 and from Bristol, was out with his family at the Portreath Arms, a popular pub in the north Cornwall coastal village, when he was taken ill.

The family were said to be distressed that they had to wait so long for the emergency services to give permission for the body to be taken to the mortuary.

Ian and Sharon Austin, owners of the Portreath Arms, were out of the country this week and not available to comment, but a member of staff told the Packet that there was surprise at the time it took to remove the body.

It was a busy Saturday night at the popular pub, which was full of regulars, and the dining area where the man died had to be cleared.

Although life at the pub continued customers were not happy that a body remained in the adjacent bar.

"I know Sharon was upset with the time it took to deal with it," she said. "It was not a pleasant experience to have a dead body hanging around. One bar in the pub was closed, but the rest of the pub carried on as normal."

Former magistrate Ken Bowden, who lives in Lighthouse Hill, Portreath said: "It was quite a surprise to me when I walked in just after 10pm for a couple of pints.

"There were more strangers in the bar than usual and the lounge area was shut. I could not believe it. I understand it happened about 8.15pm and it was 11.30pm before the body was taken away."

Mr Bowden, a retired landlord who used to run the Choughs at Camborne, said Saturday night at the Portreath Arms was always busy and on this occasion many of the diners had to be moved into the bar to finish their meal.

"I was not there when it happened. When I arrived there were two ambulances on the scene. The ambulance crew stayed all the time. They were very good.

"There were lots of people in the pub when I walked in. The dining area had been quite busy. But it was one of those things. It happened to me a couple of times."

West Country Ambulance confirmed the delay yesterday and said it was "unfortunate." Paramedics stayed at the scene but police from Camborne did not turn up as quickly as expected.

"We received the call at 8.48pm and ended up waiting two hours for the police to turn up," said Kate Smith.

A duty undertaker, A C Richards from Perranporth, was contacted at 10.30pm and eventually the body was taken to the mortuary at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske.

Roger Dunbar, the coroner's officer, said he had been informed but the death would not be the subject of an inquest and was now out of his hands.

Baxter Proven, a Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman, confirmed officers had been called to the scene but he did not know why there had been a lengthy delay. The police log showed the call being taken at 9.25pm although it was 10.34 pm before they arrived.

"We were invited by the ambulance crew to attend," he said. "The man was on holiday and was with his son and daughter-in-law when he complained of chest pains. He was taken ill in the restaurant area."

PC Matt Cummings, from Camborne, attended the scene but was off-duty earlier this week and unavailable to comment. It was understood that radio contact was not good in the area and he had to use a land telephone line to contact a duty sergeant to let him know what was going on. The body could not be moved until the undertaker arrived.

Mr Richards, of AC Richards, funeral directors, confirmed his company had been called but referred all inquiries to the police.