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Open verdict recorded by coroner at inquest into death of Neil Eaketts, from Frampton-on-Severn

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 23, 2014

Neil Eaketts was missing for six days before his body was found

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THE grieving family of Neil Eaketts may never get the answers they need about why he died.

An open verdict was recorded at the inquest into the death of the 42-year-old, who was found in the canal near Gloucester six days after he went missing from his Frampton-on-Severn home.

Mr Eaketts had previously taken drugs overdoses and had suffered with depression. He also occasionally went on drinking binges and took drugs.

A Gloucester inquest was told Mr Eaketts was reported missing by his sister, Deborah O’Neill, on the evening of September 24 last year.

He had left home through a window, taking his bank card and his bike.

Police Sergeant Andrew Burford said he was alerted that Mr Eaketts was a “high risk” missing person and extensive inquiries began in a bid to find him.

Sgt Burford said investigations found that £100 had been withdrawn from his account from the cash machine at the Tesco store in Quedgeley at 11.35pm on September 24.

On September 30, the lock keeper at Sellars Bridge, Hardwicke, reported a body had been spotted in the canal. The body was recovered by the fire service and a bank card belonging to Mr Eaketts was discovered.

In a statement, consultant psychiatrist Dr Katie Sackett said Mr Eaketts had previously been admitted to Wotton Lawn Hospital in 2005 and 2012.

Analysis of samples following his death found high levels of alcohol in his system when he died.

Pathologist Dr Linmarie Ludeman, who carried out a post mortem examination, said Mr Eaketts had died from drowning.

Gloucestershire assistant coroner Katie Skerrett said Mr Eaketts clearly had significant mental health issues and a number of stresses in his life that would trigger those issues.

“We very much see and up-and-down patterns of binge drinking and taking drugs, but then seeming to take steps forward and seeking help. It appeared that Mr Eaketts had seemed to be improving,” she said.

“But we also know in his history that very quickly his condition could deteriorate.”

Mrs Skerrett said there were two conclusions open to her but she could not be certain how Mr Eaketts ended up in the canal or rule out any other possible explanation and that ruled out a suicide conclusion.

“I do not know and therefore the best conclusion I can give is an open conclusion,” she said.

After the inquest, Mrs O’Neill said the family would never have the answers to their questions about his tragic death.

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