An 87-year-old woman trapped behind her starlift for 14 hours, was released by fire fighters after being found by shocked family memebrs.

Great-grandmother Maria Middleton had said goodnight to her daughter Theresa Watson on the phone and was making her way up to bed in her Hillcross Avenue home, Morden when she slipped and fell down the stairs.

Her legs became trapped in the stair lift and her head in the banister, forcing her to lie stricken throughout the night until her grand-daughter Louise Spinks raised the alarm the next morning.

Fire fighters freed Mrs Middleton and she was taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting where she remains under observation.

She was treated for hypothermia and deep cuts to her legs and may have to have a skin graft.

She broke her wrist and has bruising and a cut to the back of the head.

Her grandson Jon Watson, who lives in Lower Morden Lane, Morden. said: "She’s making a remarkable recovery.

"I am a police officer and I know what things look like and it didn’t look good.

"She’s got some nasty injuries.

"My parents live next door and they call her every day."

Mr Watson said the family wanted to thank the ambulance crew and staff at St George’s Hospital who he said did a fantastic job.

Mrs Middleton, who is Italian and moved to the UK with her late British husband Fred, is said to be in high spirits in hospital and has been laughing and joking with her close-knit family.

The pair met in Naples when Mr Middleton was serving there in the Second World War.

He passed away in 2007.

Mr Watson said: "It was a great shock to find her at the bottom of the stairs.

"She was wedged between the banister post and chair lift.

"She doesn’t use it - she’s very stubborn."

Fire crews from three stations were called to the scene on Friday, March 28.

It took firefighters 40 minutes to free Mrs Middleton using a reciprocating saw to cut through the metal stair lift, after the cutting gear normally used to rescue car crash victims failed to cut through.

Ray Foster, New Malden's green watch manager, said: "It was a very unusual rescue. Access was very difficult over the lady and everything about it was quite tricky.

"It was a really good effort from my crew. We devised a plan, stuck to it, and got her out."