Mystery death of company owner

A BUSINESSMAN and the son of two prominent Suffolk town councillors has been found dead in unexplained circumstances at the rural home he shared with his parents.

Michael Ford, a wine merchant who owned Dragon Drinks in Pentlow, near Sudbury, was discovered after concerned friends said he had not turned up for work.

When police went to his business premises – a converted farm barn where he sold wines, spirits and champagne and ran outside bars for weddings and parties – they found no trace of Mr Ford, a bachelor believed to be in his 30s.

But when they went to Mr Ford’s home in Blackhouse Lane, Little Cornard – which he shared with his stepfather, Tony Platt, Sudbury’s deputy town mayor, and his mother Lesley Ford-Platt, a town councillor – they found his body inside.

A police spokesman said officers forced their way into the house shortly after 8pm on Thursday evening. Mr Ford’s parents were on a Scandinavian cruise at the time. Police found three cats and a pet dog in the house at the time, which were taken away to be looked after.

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His mother, who is also chairman of Sudbury’s Market Town Partnership, said the death of her “wonderful” son had ripped apart her family.

She said: “My son and daughter are absolutely devastated as all of us are. We were on a cruise at the time when we received a call to say we had to come home immediately as Michael had died. I lost my sister earlier this year and to lose our lovely son is absolutely shattering.”

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A police spokesman said they were not treating the death as suicide.

She said: “Mr Ford was found dead at the scene but there were no suspicious circumstances. It remains an unexplained accidental death and we will not have further information until the coroner’s inquest.”

Sudbury’s mayor Peter Goodchild said he was shocked to hear of Michael’s death and his heartfelt condolences went out to both Lesley and Tony.

He said: “Obviously we are all very upset about what has happened. I know I speak on behalf of everyone at Sudbury Town Council when I say we feel very deeply for the family at what must be an awful time for all of them. All of the councillors here are deeply shocked especially as we do not know exactly what happened to Michael at this stage.”

People who worked closely with Mr Ford at the business park in Pentlow said they were saddened to hear of his death.

One lady, who did not want to be named, said: “His business was clearly going really well. He recently did a very big event out in Acton and seemed to be very busy.”

Shocked friends said Mr Ford had seemed in good spirits shortly before his death. One said: “I bumped into Mike in the local pub the night before he died and he seemed very upbeat and he said business was going really well and he was very busy. He was always a cheerful jolly chap.”

Just two days before his death Mr Ford posted updates on his company’s Facebook describing his plans for the rest of the year and thanking all his existing clients for their support.

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