Talented footballer died in river fall

A GIFTED semi-professional footballer died after slipping into an Essex river just days before Christmas, an inquest heard.

Popular Adam Passfield was found in the River Chelmer in Chelmsford last New Year’s Eve, 12 days after he went missing following a night out with friends.

The 22-year-old, of Sharpington Close, Galleywood, left Chicago’s nightclub in the early hours of December 19 after drinks with his team-mates at Heybridge Swifts Football Club.

Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard yesterday that police retrieved footage of him walking past La Tasca but lost him as he walked further along the towpath.

Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray, recording a verdict of accidental death, said on the balance of probabilities Mr Passfield had slipped and fallen into the river.

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The inquest heard the amount of alcohol in Mr Passfield’s blood would have been more than three times the drink-drive limit.

Jane Passfield, Adam’s aunt, speaking on behalf of his family after the inquest, said: “Adam is in our hearts forever and we will always love him dearly.

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“He will be terribly missed by all of his family and many friends.

“Now that this day is over and the process complete, we can let Adam rest in peace and while we all continue to grieve we can try to find acceptance and move along in life cherishing our memories.”

She also paid tribute to Detective Chief Inspector Mark Wheeler, of Essex Police, who headed the operation to find Mr Passfield.

She added: “If it was not for his perseverance we would not have found Adam. The outcome [of the police search] was not what we were looking for but at least we have some degree of closure now.”

Mr Passfield was discovered by specialist divers from Sussex Police under debris in the River Chelmer near The Meadows Shopping Centre.

Police launched a major operation to find Mr Passfield, while 10,000 people signed up to a group on social networking site Facebook to help with the search.

Mrs Beasley-Murray, addressing Mr Passfield’s family, added: “I hope that all of you will be able to treasure and dwell on the happy, positive memories you have of him.”

Days after Mr Passfield was found footballers and fans at Heybridge Swifts’ Scraley Road ground paid a poignant tribute to him by holding a minute’s applause in his memory.

A spokesman for Heybridge Swifts Football Club said Mr Passfield was a “very popular” team member who had been with the club for about four years, making 37 appearances for the first team.

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