North West Wales

Missing publican hurled abuse at former Corrie actor Bruce Jones

Justin Mathis Image copyright Other
Image caption Justin Mathis ran the Bridge Hotel in Conwy

A Conwy publican went missing after hurling abuse at the former Coronation Street star, Bruce Jones, an inquest has heard.

The actor, who played the character Les Battersby in the soap, was insulted by Justin Mathis.

Mr Mathis, 29, disappeared after the incident at the George and Dragon pub in February 2011 and his body has never been found.

The coroner at the Ruthin inquest recorded an open conclusion.

The inquest was told that Mr Mathis was reported missing the following day after failing to return home.

Mr Mathis ran the nearby Bridge Hotel, and the hearing was told that the publican had become embroiled in an argument with the licensee of the George and Dragon about a clash of quiz nights at their pubs.

In a statement read out at the inquest, actor Mr Jones said the missing publican was loud and argumentative, and abusive to him as he walked past.

The former soap star said he intervened when Mr Mathis took a swing at an elderly customer, and the publican was asked to leave the bar.

Mr Mathis's partner, Gareth Williams, reported him missing on 4 February after he failed to return to their home in Penmaenmawr.

Extensive search

It led to a major search operation by North Wales Police, involving the force helicopter and underwater search teams.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Former Coronation Street actor, Bruce Jones, intervened in pub argument

A witness had told police that he had spotted a man sitting or crouching on the quayside in Conwy on the night Mr Mathis went missing.

One of the publican's boots was also recovered near the River Conwy in Deganwy following the police search.

Despite the extensive search, and the offer of £10,000 reward to help trace Mr Mathis, his body has never been recovered.

Recording an open conclusion, the coroner for North Wales East and Central, John Gittins, said he could not speculate but it was likely that Mr Mathis had fallen into the water.

He told Mr Mathis' sister Vicky McIntyre and Mr Williams: "I can give you legal closure but not emotional closure."

After the hearing Mr Williams' father Wyn Williams paid tribute to the police and other organisations for their search efforts in dreadful conditions.

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