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Inquest into death of Jeremy Olding, from Mersham near Ashford, who drowned at Dymchurch beach

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

A drummer who drowned while visiting the seaside with his partner died in hospital several days later after he suffered multiple organ failure, an inquest heard.

Jeremy Olding, 58, was visiting Romney Marsh last summer with his girlfriend Jayne Joynson.

At a hearing at the Archbishops' Palace in Maidstone last Thursday, assistant coroner Katrina Hepburn heard evidence into the circumstances surrounding the death.

Dymchurch Beach. Picture: Gary Browne
Dymchurch Beach. Picture: Gary Browne

On July 1 last year, Mr Olding, of Brisley Lane, Mersham, near Ashford, went to Dymchurch beach with Ms Joynson.

The court was told how Mr Olding suffered with chronic back pain and alcoholism. Ms Joynson said he had been making an effort to drink less and attempts had been made to refer Mr Olding to help with his alcohol addictions.

Ms Joynson called the seaside their "happy place" and they had been for one drink at a bar earlier in the day. Mr Olding had also had at least one drink at home, the hearing was told. Ms Joynson told the court that Mr Olding had not seemed drunk.

She said: "We used to go there all the time. We never used to go in the sea but I presumed he could swim."

The pair, who were engaged, made their way down to the beach.

She said that Mr Olding had been "happy and laughing" but then he had lost control of his bowels, she told the court.

Mr Olding, who was wearing shorts and no top, decided to go into sea to clean himself, the court heard.

Ms Joynson explained how the water came up to about hip height, and she saw him go under the water and back up twice, before going onto his back.

She said: "First time he went under the water I thought he'd slipped on a rock but then I remembered Dymchurch is flat. I was a bit concerned but I just thought he will be okay. But when he went onto his back, I thought he was getting his breath back... He wasn't moving."

Calls to paramedics were made just before 3.30pm and four ambulance crews attended.

Archbishop’s Palace. Picture: Andy Jones
Archbishop’s Palace. Picture: Andy Jones

Mr Olding was found with no pulse or breath and paramedics found his airway blocked with seawater. He was taken to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

Medical staff told Mr Olding's family that he had suffered failures in five organs and brain damage. He died in hospital five days later on July 6 after his life support machine was turned off. He went on to be an organ donor.

Reading the post mortem examination, the coroner told the court how Mr Olding's alcohol levels were more than three times the legal driving limit.

The medical cause of death was provided as drowning, with alcohol as a contributory factor but the coronor made the decision to change this to bronchopneumonia, prompted by salt water causing an infection in the lungs.

The coroner said: "It is not clear what caused him to go under the water. At that time there was a significant amount of alcohol in his body. He would have had a tolerance to it. But I do find that there would have been some level of intoxication."

The coroner concluded Mr Olding's death to be misadventure. She said: "I do not find it's an alcohol related death because I am unclear what caused him to go under the water. Equally, I'm not going to put this down as an accidental death."

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