Blackpool man drowned in the sea after night out, inquest hears

Paul Wards body was found on beach in front of Blackpool Tower (Photo: BEF)
Paul Wards body was found on beach in front of Blackpool Tower (Photo: BEF)

CCTV cameras captured the last moments of Paul Ward, 46, of Bute Avenue, North Shore, as he made is way to the seafront at 3.20am on May 25 after a night out with his partner Gemma Fleming to Bar 19, on Queen Street .

The pair had spent some time drinking in the bar but at some point they became separated and Gemma eventually returned home, expecting Paul to get back a little later.

But daughter Felicity Ward became concerned when he didn’t return and, after trying to find him on the prom, rang the police and reported him missing.

Blackpool Coroners Court at the Town Hall (Photo: DM)
Blackpool Coroners Court at the Town Hall (Photo: DM)

At around 6.30am on May 25, police were called by a council cleaning worker who told them there was a body on the beach in front of Blackpool Tower, after he had been alerted to it by a passing cyclist.

Police found a number of superficial injuries on the body, including cuts and bruises in is arms, legs and chest, and Mr Ward was later identified.

During the hearing at Blackpool Coroners Court coroner Alan Wilson asked pathologist Dr Sameer Shaktawat if the injuries were consistent with the abrasions caused from coming into contact with sand and rocks while being in the sea for some time.

Dr Shaktawat agreed and said he found the cause of death to be drowning, with heavy alcohol intake a secondary factor, following a toxicology report.

Mr Ward’s partner Jemma, responding to questions by Mr Wilson, affirmed that she and Mr Ward were both fairly intoxicated by the time she had last seen him.

Summing up, Mr Wilson recorded a narrative verdict, saying: “I believe it would be wrong to record a verdict of suicide, as I can’t be certain that Mr Ward was in the sea intentionally.

"Equally, I cannot speculate that he died an accidental death, and then try to fill in the gaps in the evidence we do have.

"I would like to express my condolences to Mr Ward’s family.”