Walton Castle swimming pool death an accident

Steven Penny
Image caption Steven Penny was discovered underwater by guests at a birthday party

The death of a man who was found in a swimming pool at a 16th Century castle in Clevedon, near Bristol, was accidental, a coroner has ruled.

Steven Penny, 43, was found in the water at Walton Castle on 12 March. Despite attempts to resuscitate him, he died at the scene.

Mr Penny was the partner of Margarita Hamilton, the Grade II-listed castle's owner.

The coroner at his inquest concluded he had died from "dry drowning".

The inquest was held at Flax Bourton Coroner's Court on Thursday.

Mr Penny, an internet promotions company manager, was discovered underwater by guests at a weekend-long birthday party Mrs Hamilton had thrown for her ex-husband Rai Hamilton.

The hearing was told two guests had gone for a swim at about 04:30 GMT, leaving Mr Penny sitting on steps in the shallow end of the underground swimming pool.

'Sorely missed'

After no more than a couple of minutes swimming, they spotted Mr Penny submerged.

The guests tried to revive the father-of-two, but were unable to save him.

Toxicology tests showed Mr Penny was three-and-a-half times the drink drive limit, and traces of cocaine were found in his urine.

Dr Simon Fox, Assistant Deputy Coroner for Avon, said he was satisfied that all the evidence indicated that Mr Penny had died from "dry drowning", a sudden reaction to water entering the mouth and hitting the back of the throat, causing sudden death.

"In those circumstances, the appropriate verdict is one of accidental death," he said.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Hamilton said: "We are very relieved that this episode has come to an end.

"Steven was a lovely, lovely man and will be sorely missed by everyone."

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