Judge's death an accident - inquest

A judge found dead in a village stream died from drowning, an inquest heard yesterday.William Everard, 59, was found face down in the water by a passer-by in South Creake on the morning of February 1.

AJUDGE found dead in a village stream died from drowning, an inquest heard on Thursday.

William Everard, 59, was found face down in the water by a passer-by in South Creake on the morning of February 1.

Judge Everard from Willoughby on the Wolds, Leicestershire, owned a holiday home in the village. He was last seen alive the previous evening, which he spent in the Ostrich Inn, near the spot where his body was found, having earlier been shooting.

Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong recorded


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a verdict of accidental

death at the inquest at

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King's Lynn County Court.

He said a heart condition, the level of alcohol in the judge's body and cold temperature

of the water would have hampered his efforts to get out of the stream.

"I'm very conscious of the fact that Judge Everard was a much-loved husband and brother, admired by colleagues and a highly respected judge and his

death is a great loss to the judiciary," he added.

The landlord of the Ostrich Inn, Mandy Connor, was one of the last people to see Judge Everard alive. She told the inquest that he had arrived at the pub at about 6.30pm and left alone at 11pm.

Mrs Connor said he drank about two pints and half

a large glass of red wine and put on a scarf and long coat.

The inquest heard that he was found dead in a stream the next morning by Philip Allen, who was on his way to his farm. Mr Allen also found a torch near to the stream that was still switched on.

"I was walking along when I noticed something in the water, I got a bit closer and thought it was a scarecrow that had fallen in the

water overnight," he said.

"On closer inspection, I saw it was a man's body lying face down in the water. The water was four or five inches around his face."

Mr Allen said Judge Everard was no more than 300 metres from his cottage and more than two-thirds of the way home.

The inquest heard that

police had ruled out any

third-party involvement or a traffic accident. A forensic pathologist's report said Judge Everard was "likely to have been intoxicated" and had a blood alcohol level of 206mgs in 100 mls - equivalent to more than twice the legal drink-drive limit.

After the hearing, Judge Everard's wife, Christine, said in a statement: "I would like to thank the police and the coroner's office for their thorough investigation into my husband's tragic death.

"He was a respected judge and a man much-loved by family and friends. We have taken some small comfort from the knowledge that on the day he died he had been doing something he loved, shooting and socialising

with friends, in a county he loved."

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