Open verdict for Frampton-on-Severn man Neil Eaketts found in Gloucester Sharpness Canal, Gloucestershire Coroner's Court rules
Updated 10:57am Friday 24th January 2014 in News By Daniel Chipperfield, senior reporter covering Dursley, Cam, Wotton-under-Edge, Sharpness, Slimbridge, Berkeley, Coaley, Uley, North Nibley, Stinchcombe and Cambridge
AN INQUEST into the death of a Frampton-on-Severn man who had a history of suicide attempts and drink and drug abuse has recorded an open verdict after his body was found in a canal in Hardwicke.
Neil James Eaketts was found dead at 8am on Monday, September 30 in Gloucester and Sharpness Canal near Sellars Road by dog walkers after being missing for six days.
The 42-year-old was reported missing by his sister Deborah O’Neill on the evening of Tuesday, September 24 when he had left home through a first floor window, taking his bank card and bike at around 10pm.
Gloucestershire Police sergeant Andrew Burford said that Mr Eaketts was being treated as a “high risk” missing person and investigations found that later that night £100 was taken from a cash machine at Tesco supermarket in Quedgeley.
However further investigation by the police found that the CCTV at the store was not working.
Post mortem analysis showed a high level of alcohol in his system but the drugs were found to be prescribed and for therapeutic use only, so not considered as an attempted overdose.
Gloucestershire assistant coroner Katie Skerrett said Mr Eaketts had made several attempts at suicide by overdosing on drugs in the past and had a history of self-harming and drinking to excess.
She added that he had suffered from stress including financial and health issues and had “depressive episodes of moderate severity”.
She described how on July 2 he had been found running in front of traffic “in a dangerous way” after drinking heavily.
Consultant psychiatrist Katie Sackett revealed in her statement that Mr Eaketts had been admitted to Wotton Lawn Hospital in 2005 and 2012.
By July 9 it seemed that he had been making good progress but then relapsing at the end of July and began self harming again.
Mrs Skerrett said: “It appears that Mr Eaketts seemed to be improving in August and that he was planning a return to work. But we also know that he could quickly deteriorate.
“He often sought help but did not always let people know of his state of mind.”
Pathologist Dr Linmarie Ludeman said that the post-mortem examination showed the lungs were super inflated which pointed to the cause of death as drowning.
In conclusion, Mrs Skerrett said that the burden of proof of it being beyond reasonable doubt that it was a suicide could not be passed and so recorded an open verdict.
Speaking to the Gazette, Mrs O’Neill said her brother’s death was very tragic and long term for the family.
“We will never have the answers to our questions,” she said.
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