Mystery remains over river death

By James MortlockMYSTERY still surrounds the drowning of a pensioner who was found dead in a river with his beloved pet dog, an inquest heard.Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean ruled there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Robin Matthews, 65, of Constable Road, Sudbury, but stressed no-one would ever know exactly what happened.

By James Mortlock

MYSTERY still surrounds the drowning of a pensioner who was found dead in a river with his beloved pet dog, an inquest heard.

Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean ruled there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Robin Matthews, 65, of Constable Road, Sudbury, but stressed no-one would ever know exactly what happened.

The Bury St Edmunds inquest was told Mr Matthews, who was unable to swim, had been found dead in the River Stour near Brundon Mill the morning after he had gone missing while walking his pet red setter Poppy.


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Dr Dean said: “Clearly what happened was a very tragic accident. But we don't know if the dog went in first and Mr Matthews went in to try to rescue it and not being able to swim got into difficulty or whether Mr Matthews fell and got into difficulty and the dog went in after him.

“We just don't know and as there were no witnesses we will probably never know. There is no suggestion he tried to harm himself - what took place was a very tragic accident. My verdict is one of accidental death.”

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The inquest heard yesterday Mr Matthews, a retired dustman, had failed to return home from his nightly walk with Poppy on February 4.

Pc Darren Marshall, one of the offciers involved in the search for the pensioner, said in a statement the hunt had been boosted by members of the Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue team.

The first indication Mr Matthews had ended up in the river came when his dog's body was spotted floating near Brundon Mill early on February 5.

A chain lead and torch were found nearby and Pc Marshall said Mr Matthews had been found floating, with his clothes caught on overhanging branches, a short while later.

The inquest was told Mr Matthews had been pulled from the river by members of the search team, aided by firefighters from Sudbury. He was pronounced dead by a doctor on the riverbank.

Mr Matthews' daughter-in-law, Yvonne Goodchild, said in a statement that her father-in-law had retired from his long-time job as a dustman in May last year.

She added he had been focussed on staying healthy and said: “He had had high blood pressure for 15 years and two weeks before he died had said he wasn't feeling 100%, but was otherwise fit and healthy.

“There was never any suggestion of him taking his own life and he had never suffered from depression.”

Mrs Goodchild said her father-in-law had been passionate about his pet dog and walked her twice a day. She added the evening walk took about an hour in the winter, but longer in the summer.

She was sure Mr Matthews had been unable to swim and a report prepared by pathologist Barry Cottrell recorded the cause of death as drowning.

james.mortlock@eadt.co.uk

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