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Home Folkestone News Article
It is not known whether Raymond Cox accidentally fell or collapsed through illness – he had not even drowned.
But tests could not pin down the cause of death.
Alan Blunsdon, assistant coroner for central and south east Kent, recorded an open verdict at an inquest.
He said: “There is insufficient evidence to ascertain how Mr Cox went into the ditch. He may have collapsed or tripped – I cannot trace the cause.”
Mr Cox had been battling alcoholism but had not been drinking at the time of his death, the hearing was told.
But he was prone to fits during times of withdrawal and Mr Blunsdon said this could have made him fall in or he could have slipped in the muddy conditions.
The inquest heard that the body of unemployed Mr Cox, 49, of Greenly Way, New Romney, was found face down in the ditch off the town’s Church Lane by a dog walker about 3.30pm on January 28 last year.
He had fallen into waist-high water from a narrow gravel and mud footpath going from Church Lane to the Mountfield Road Industrial Estate.
The recovery of the body had involved fire crews going into the water with waders and poles.
Det Insp John Holl said that conditions were particularly slippery and there was a sharp drop from the path into the ditch alongside it.
He said that although Mr Cox could swim he was wearing heavy clothes, and if these were waterlogged it would have been difficult for him to stand up – and it could have been too slippery for him to climb out.
Pathologist Dr Salim Anjarwalla said that cause of death was unascertainable but there was no fluid in his lungs that would suggest drowning.
Dr Anjarwalla said he could instead have died from hypothermia or cardiac arrest.
Toxicology tests showed he had not been drinking and had minimal traces of paracetamol in his system.
Mr Cox’s wife, Natalie, said he regularly used the footpath and had never fallen into the ditch before.
Police ruled out third party involvement or suicide, the inquest at Dover Magistrates was told.
“There is insufficient evidence to ascertain how Mr Cox went into the ditch. He may have collapsed or tripped – I cannot trace the cause" - Alan Blunsdon
Jasmine Butcher had served him his prescribed medication at the Lloyds Pharmacy in New Romney High Street that morning and said he was cheerful and more talkative than usual.
Mr Cox suffered cirrhosis of the liver because of alcohol abuse, although he had stopped the previous Christmas.
The night before his death he told his wife he was going to see his doctor to get anti-alcoholism tablets.
Mr Blunsdon said: “Sadly, he was addicted . But what is clear is that he was making determined efforts to beat his addiction.”
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