River death 'accidental'

A 64-YEAR-OLD man, who was found dead in the River Rye, died from alcohol poisoning about a month after being diagnosed with cancer, an inquest heard.

Castle Howard tour guide David Buckley went missing on January 22 and was found face down in the river by marines searching the river bank on February 8.

Officers were alerted by an empty bottle of whisky and a blue jacket caught on a branch which contained a key fob with Mr Buckley’s address on it. They found his body further downstream towards Helmsley.

Giving evidence at the Scarborough inquest, consultant pathologist Dr Mohammed Musa said Mr Buckley, of Vicarage Farm, Helmsley, had not drowned and the most likely cause of death was the high level of alcohol in his bloodstream.

His widow, Patricia Buckley, said the couple had been married 45 years. They had just returned from a month’s holiday in the Caribbean and had been staying with friends the weekend before he went missing. The last time she saw him was when he left the house saying he was going for a walk. She asked him to set the video before he left.

Expecting him to be out for just an hour, Mrs Buckley called the police when he hadn’t returned home by 11.30pm. The court heard he was a light drinker.

Three witnesses said they saw Mr Buckley or a man matching his description in the two days after he disappeared – the last sighting being on January 24 near the Cayley Arms in Allerston.

The inquest heard about three years ago Mr Buckley had taken an overdose of tablets with a bottle of whisky while suffering from depression. Mrs Buckley said he was unhappy with the amount of medication he had been prescribed and complained about it to his GP about six months ago.

The couple had been having a lot of problems with the builders who converted their property and Mr Buckley had been upset by the recent death of his father-in-law from cancer.

Mrs Buckley said: “Three weeks later David was rushed into hospital because he was in so much pain during the night. The specialist said he had found a tumour and it was cancerous.”

She said it had worried him a lot because his mother had also had cancer but was not sure if he had told his GP and it was not mentioned in his doctor’s statement.

Passing a verdict of accidental death, coroner Michael Oakley said: “The blood alcohol level was not what would be deemed a fatal level, but this was the only reason Dr Musa could find as a cause of death. He ingested much more alcohol than he was clearly used to. There’s no indication he’s done this deliberately to harm himself.”

As well as being a part-time tour guide, Mr Buckley had been a voluntary helper behind the bar at the Old Meeting House in Helmsley.