Fleet gardener drowned in water butt

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AN elderly gardener drowned when he fell head first into a water butt.

AN elderly gardener drowned when he fell head first into a water butt.

Arthur Sexton (80) was found dead in his garden by a neighbour at Church End, Fleet, on March 11.

On Friday, coroner Maureen Taylor recorded a verdict of accidental death.

A post mortem revealed that Mr Sexton died from drowning.

In a statement, Mr Sexton’s wife Jessie said that at about 4pm she was in the lounge when Mr Sexton brought her a cup of tea.

He went out and she assumed he had gone to visit their neighbours, which he did regularly.

When he hadn’t come back two hours later she went next door to discover that he hadn’t been there.

Neighbour Ian Bond gave a statement saying Mrs Sexton called round at about 6.30pm to look for her husband, saying he had been missing since about 4pm.

He said: “I went to their house but couldn’t find him.

“I got in the car and drove round the block but still couldn’t find him.

“My wife called the police and I took a torch to check the garden next door.

“Behind the shed I could see Arthur’s leg sticking out of the side of the water barrel.

“Arthur was face down in it up to his waist.

Mr Bond said he tried to push the water butt over to get Mr Sexton out his feet caught in the conifers.

He said: “I had to shake him out he was in so tight.

“I knew he was dead so I put a coat over him in case his wife came out.”

PC Peter Avery, of Holbeach Police, was called to the incident.

In a statement, he said: “I was met by Mr Bond who showed me the garden.

“I checked Mr Sexton for signs of life but there was no pulse.

“There were a pair of flimsy stepladders near the shed which appeared to have collapsed shut.

“It seemed to me that the man had fallen from the ladder directly into the water butt.”

Coroner’s officer David Lea, who attended the house a few days later, told the inquest that there was no evidence as to how Mr Sexton came to be inside the water butt.

He said: “We tried to reconstruct the scene but couldn’t find a plausible way he had gone into the water butt.”

Mr Lea said there was no evidence of suicide or of anyone else being involved in the incident.

In summary Miss Taylor said: “It’s clear we will never find out how this tragic accident occurred.”