Man in pond death riddle

PUBLISHED: 11:16 09 March 2006 | UPDATED: 13:17 04 May 2010

A VERDICT of accidental death was recorded at the inquest of a Soham businessman found face-down in his garden pond. Victor Willet, 64, of Barcham Road, who had run Bywater Gardens from his home for more than 18 years, was found by his son David, early on

A VERDICT of accidental death was recorded at the inquest of a Soham businessman found face-down in his garden pond.

Victor Willet, 64, of Barcham Road, who had run Bywater Gardens from his home for more than 18 years, was found by his son David, early on September 29 last year.

David Willet was woken by his mother Anne, who phoned to say his father had gone missing.

Mrs Willet, who had been married to Victor for more than 44 years, said in court: "I heard him get out of bed and just thought he was going to the bathroom.

"Then I heard the front door open. It was very strange - he had not changed into his clothes so would have just been wearing his boxer shorts.

"He had never done anything like this before."

Mrs Willet went to look for her husband, remembering that he had been concerned the day before about a toxic fish tank, but could not find him.

David Willet arrived at the house about five minutes later and found his father in the pond.

He called to his mother to phone an ambulance and pulled him out.

David then followed instructions via the telephone and tried to resuscitate his father. The ambulance arrived about 20 minutes later and Victor Willet was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital where further resuscitation attempts were made but he was later pronounced dead.

David Willet told the inquest how he and his mother had noticed his father had been worrying over a two-week period before he died.

He said: "He was on the verge of retirement and this made him realise that he was coming to the closing stages of his life. He could see what he was leaving behind.

"He also had concerns about what would happen to his business, which he cared about a great deal."

When asked by coroner William Morris if he had ever spoken of taking his own life, David said: "No, I firmly believe this was not suicide, there is no doubt in my mind over this matter."

When asked the same question, Mrs Willet said: "He told me he would never do anything silly because he knew the muddle it would cause and how much I relied on him."

Dr John William Grant, of Addenbrooke's Hospital, told the court how the post-mortem examination showed Mr Willet had quite severe ischaemic heart disease, caused by high blood pressure, and a condition of this type could, at any time, cause sudden death.

Dr Grant said in his opinion Mr Willet drowned because he could not find any acute changes in his heart condition. He said it was possible that Mr Willet may have suffered a heart attack which caused him to fall into the pond, but this was a matter of speculation, the result could not be 100 per cent clear cut.

Mr Morris recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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