Open verdict for Forty Foot Drain death man

PUBLISHED: 18:04 14 May 2007 | UPDATED: 22:47 28 May 2010

The notorious Forty Foot Drain

The notorious Forty Foot Drain

A CORONER today (Mon) recorded an open verdict into the death of an man who died after his car went into a river which runs along a notorious Fenland road. Paul Atkinson died from drowning after his car went into the Forty Foot Drain last December, an inq

A CORONER today (Mon) recorded an open verdict into the death of an man who died after his car went into a river which runs along a notorious Fenland road.

Paul Atkinson died from drowning after his car went into the Forty Foot Drain last December, an inquest heard there was no evidence that the vehicle had been speeding.

A Christmas card, addressed to 'everyone' was found in the car with the wording 'I'm so sorry, all my love Paul'.

The inquest at Wisbech on Monday heard there had been no mechanical defects with the car, and crash investigators concluded the vehicle had not been travelling at high speeds as there was no evidence of major damage to the car and the air bag had not inflated.

But the inquest also heard that there had not been any evidence of medical illness or mental health issues with Mr Atkinson, 43 of Sycamore Lane, Ely, and the last time he had been seen by work colleagues and family he had appeared his usual self.

He was last seen at work on December 13 last year and had appeared fine, he worked as a data architect at Cambridge University Press.

Colleagues said he was reserved quiet intelligent man. On December 15 colleagues reported that he had not turned up to work.

His family had last seen him on December 9 and that his father Peter Atkinson said in a statement that his son was a very level headed and that he had never known him to be depressed or have any financial worries. He said his son had a keen interest in wildlife and was a member of a number of bird watching clubs.

Mr Atkinson's car was spotted in the Forty Foot Drain at Ramsey Forty Foot near Chatteris, on Boxing Day last year by a lorry driver.

Officers attended and the Renault Laguna was pulled from the water.

PC Stephen Edwards, told the inquest, that they could not find the point where the car entered the water, but he said: "It entered at low speed.

"There was no evidence that speed played a part in this."

He said the driver was still wearing his seat belt and the head lights and the engine were switched off. He said there was no evidence to show the driver had made any attempts to escape.

A post mortem concluded Mr Atkinson had died from drowning and there was evidence that his body had been submerged in water for a long time.

Toxicology results found there were no traces of drugs and alcohol in his system.

Coroner William Morris said there was not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that this had been a suicide or that it was an accidental death.

He recorded an open verdict and said the car had entered the water sometime between December 13 and December 26 last year.

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