Inquests into Matthew Pope and Matthew Dunnett conclude best friends suffered accidental deaths

Matt Dunnett

Matt Dunnett - Credit: Archant

A man tragically died paying tribute to his late best friend whose body he had discovered just weeks before, an inquest heard yesterday.

Twenty-two-year-old Matthew Dunnett of Woodhouse Square identified the body of Matthew Pope, after an overdose of Heroin, Diazepam and MDMA claimed the life of his best friend in March.

But Mr Dunnett tragically died just three months later on June 30, when he drowned after tombstoning into Alton Water to cool off from the summer heat, having said “this is for Matt” seconds before his death.

The inquests into both at IP-City Centre yesterday concluded that both incidents had been tragic accidents.

The inquest into Mr Dunnett’s death heard he had been upset about the death of Mr Pope, and had said things like “this is for Matt” before he jumped into the water alongside friend Kieran Baker

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Despite both surfacing, the inquest heard it became clear that Mr Dunnett was in difficulty, having been seen shouting and waving his arms by friends on the shore, before falling back underwater.

Despite their efforts, the friends were unable to find him, and his body was recovered by emergency services nearly two hours later.

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The inquest heard that Mr Dunnett was able to swim, and no reeds or debris were reported in the water which may have hindered his ability to swim.

A toxicology report found traces of ketamine and alcohol in Mr Dunnett’s body, but not enough to be considered drunk or to have overdosed.

The inquest heard that Mr Dunnett had been diagnosed on the autism spectrum in 2005, and had been on citalopram for low mood, and had used ketamine for recreational purposes, but there had been no suggestion that he had any suicidal thoughts.

Assistant coroner Nigel Parsley said: “This is a particularly tragic case, and has been quite a difficult case for a number of reasons.

“Matthew Pope also passed away this year and was Matty’s best friend, which is a terrible tragedy.

“I am fully aware that it would play on the young man’s mind, but it is clear to me that there is insufficient reason to think his intention was anything other than to have a good time and cool off.”

The inquest concluded that he died as a result of drowning, but was at greater risk from drugs and alcohol.

Paying tribute to Mr Dunnett, sister Zena Williams said: “His passing has made a huge impact, and it will never be the same without him.

“All our lives are completely different now things have changed.

“He was so special, a big personality and he will never be forgotten. He is going to be the bright star in the sky.”

Just weeks before on March 26, Mr Dunnett had identified the body of Matthew Pope to police after his friend’s death aged 24 at Mr Dunnett’s house.

Mr Pope had been at Mr Dunnett’s house that day, and had been seen making several trips to the bathroom, the inquest heard.

Mr Dunnett said that he was known to have a drug problem, and a statement at the time of his friend’s death said that Mr Pope had complained of heart palpitations, so had gone to lie down.

The pair, alongside friend Aaron Billingham then watched some films before falling asleep, the inquest was told, and when Mr Pope was unresponsive when they woke up, emergency services were called. After 30 minutes of CPR, he was confirmed to have died.

The inquest heard that a toxicology report found a “potentially fatal” amount of heroin and MDMA in his body, as well as traces of Diazepram and ketamine.

A statement from dad Craig Pope revealed that he was unable to let Matthew stay in his flat after several occasions of finding drug paraphernalia, the inquest was told, and that both Craig Pope and Mr Dunnett had made attempts to get him to stop using drugs.

Assistant coroner Mr Parsley said: “I have been particularly touched by the tragedy of this, and his very close friend Matt Dunnett.

“It’s clear you [Craig Pope] did as much as you could to support Matthew at what is a terrible and tragic time.”

A conclusion of accidental death as a result of an overdose.

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