Ipswich: Man charged following musician’s death

Peter Ralph.

Peter Ralph. - Credit: Contributed

A man has appeared in court charged with offering heroin to a young musician who drowned in an Ipswich river.

Peter Ralph’s body was discovered in the River Orwell, near Stoke Bridge, on September 10 last year.

Following the police inquiry into the 26-year-old’s death Samuel Varma, of Churnwood Road, Colchester, was summonsed to South East Magistrates Court in Ipswich to be charged.

The 21-year-old is accused of offering to supply the Class A drug to Mr Ralph between September 5 and September 10 last year.

Varma did not enter a plea during the first hearing of his case.


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The matter was committed to Ipswich Crown Court as magistrates concluded it was not suitable for a summary trial.

A preliminary crown court hearing was set for October 15.

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The trial window was said to be between February 10 and March 21.

Varma was released on unconditional bail at the end of the hearing, which lasted around five minutes.

A post mortem on Mr Ralph, which was carried out in London, found the cause of his death was drowning.

During Mr Ralph’s inquest in July, it was said the former Dale Hall Primary and Northgate High School student had been living in Cavendish Lodge, Turret Lane, Ipswich, and was seeking help and support for drug addiction.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded an open verdict as he said there was a possibility an accident had caused Mr Ralph’s death and there was no history of suicidal intent.

Dr Dean added: “Sadly, unanswerable questions remain. There are possibilities there. But the evidence does not take us one way or another.”

Mr Ralph, a talented guitarist, could often be found busking around Ipswich and was well-known among the town’s skater community.

Shortly after his death his mother Rona Ralph, who lives in Yorkshire, paid tribute to her “musical and creative boy”.

She said her son had struggled with drug addiction but was beginning to overcome his demons and had renewed his Christian faith.

Mrs Ralph added: “He was getting better and he was looking to get help. It has come as a shock to us all.”

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