Malpas man found in car in River Dee had no intention of killing himself, according to coroner’s rules
A Malpas man whose body was found in his car in the River Dee did not intend to kill himself, a coroner has ruled.
Martin Gordon, who has been described by his father as still ‘the life and soul of the party’, was last seen on Sunday November 1, 2020 after socializing with friends.
However, a week later, on Monday November 9, the 30-year-old was tragically found dead in his car in the River Dee in Farndon, by police search teams.
During an inquest on Tuesday April 27 at Warrington Coroner’s Court sitting in Parr Hall due to Covid-19 restrictions, the court learned how concerned Martin’s family had been when they had no his news the next day.
Martin also failed to show up for work on Monday, November 2, where he worked with his brother Simon and father Anthony and the family called the police.
Officers deemed Martin “ at risk of harm ” and an investigation was launched to try to locate the father of two.
Several inquiries were made by officers and it is believed that Martin had traveled to Farndon, where he eventually parked in a parking lot outside the Boathouse pub.
Providing evidence in court, Cheshire Police Detective Sergeant Smith said the night Martin went missing, the River Dee burst its banks and flooded the area where Martin allegedly parked his car.
It was also understood that the 30-year-old responded in a message to his mother Susan around 10:30 p.m. on November 1 to tell her that he was getting a lift at some point after meeting friends.
In his testimony, Sgt Smith said investigations revealed Martin sent three WhatsApp messages the night Martin was last seen and in the early hours of the next morning.
The first message was sent by Martin just before midnight on November 1 to his daughter and was a heart emoji.
Two separate messages were sent to an ex-girlfriend of Martin, which was a photo of his car’s dashboard and the word “goodbye”.
Martin had also done a Google search asking how deep the river was.
His phone turned out to be off around 12:40 a.m.
The court also heard that it was not clear when Martin’s vehicle entered the River Dee, but the Boathouse parking lot is believed to provide the vehicle’s first point of entry into the river.
In this area there were no obstacles, there was also minimal damage to Martin’s car and no damage was found to the Farndon bridge.
In a statement from Martin’s father, Anthony, read by Assistant Coroner Heath Westerman, he described his son as ‘the life and soul of any party’ and an ‘artist of life’.
He added: “Everywhere he went he made people smile.”
Anthony said Martin enjoys socializing, exercising and staying fit.
He added that he and his wife, who Martin lived with, expected him to be home and that it “ had no character ” for their son.
Anthony added that there had been occasions when Martin had found a place to park and slept in his car before returning home.
Earlier speaking to CheshireLive in November, Martin’s brother Simon described the 30-year-old as ‘the life and soul of the party’.
He said, “Martin loved his friends and had a good circle.
“He was so comical and so funny. He made things up and had such great original ideas.
“They were sometimes old things, but he made them original and brought them back to be funny.
“Martin is the only person I have met who has kept red garlands on their dashboard for about four or five years.
“It was a case, he danced the night away and always wanted the older generation to get up and dance.
“You could guarantee at a wedding that he would be the life and soul of the party. He was so funny.”
The court also heard that Martin was suffering from anxiety in September before his death and had been prescribed antidepressants.
Dad Anthony said there were times he fired Martin from work after he was in tears and upset.
A toxicology report on Dec. 17 found Martin had 75 milligrams per liter of alcohol in his bloodstream and prescribed antidepressants when he was found – the driving limit is 80 milligrams per liter.
Assistant Coroner Mr. Westerman recorded a finding of mishap and said the evidence before him did not lead him to a conclusion of suicide.
Addressing the court, he said: “First of all, the message Martin originally sent to his daughter was an emoji.
“There is nothing before this message and nothing with it to give it context or meaning, it is a symbol.”
Mr Westerman said he drew the same conclusion from messages Martin sent to an ex-partner of ‘bye’ and a picture of his dashboard.
The deputy coroner said the ‘goodbye’ message itself also had no context behind it and nothing was attached before or with it.
Mr Westerman said that with regard to the dashboard image, there could be ‘speculation’ as to why it was sent, but said it was not ‘ was drawing no sense. ”
He added that there was no indication from Martin that he was not going to return home.
Regarding the Google search for the depth of the river, Mr Westerman said Martin could have tried to find out how deep the river should park in the parking lot ‘in order to stay there overnight’ .
He said: “Googling the depth of the river is not sufficient evidence to show an intention to end his life.”
He concluded that Martin may have been intoxicated from alcohol and medication and ended up driving to the parking lot, where an error in judgment occurred.
Mr. Westerman recorded the conclusion of the mishap and said: “Misfortune has won out on a willful act.”
He wished the family his sincere condolences and said he hoped the family could “remember him as the great boy he was and not how he passed away.”
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