Tombstoning death - no foul play says inquest

PUBLISHED: 14:00 19 May 2011

Dean Mason

Dean Mason


THE devastated family of a Weston teenager who drowned in a tombstoning tragedy say although the cause of his death remains unexplained it is relieved there was no ‘foul play’.

Dean Mason, of Coleridge Road, died after he jumped off a 55ft ledge into a flooded lake at Holcombe Quarry near Radstock on June 12 last year.

His brother Wayne Gammon said the family has been ‘torn apart’ following his brother’s death

He added: “It is never going to be the same again. My mother is upset all the time and isn’t working at the moment, and my father is really upset – everyone is in pieces.

“I’m angry with my brother for doing what he did but I love him dearly. He was just having some fun that went against him.”

In a poignant tribute, Wayne revealed he had a picture of Dean tattooed on his arm at Christmas so his brother will ‘stay with him forever’.

An inquest into the 19-year-old’s death resumed last week after his family asked for two more people who were present on the day of the tragedy to give evidence following an initial hearing in March.

Brothers Kit and Ole Sutkem were summoned to clarify evidence heard at the first inquest which suggested Dean collided with Kit when he jumped into the water.

Kit told the inquest that he jumped into the lake from the highest ledge and must have been immediately followed by Dean as his friend landed next to him just as he was resurfacing.

He said no contact was made between him and Dean, and although he was shocked, he did not lash out and was not angry with him.

Ole told the inquest that when he saw Dean on the day of the accident he seemed ‘spaced out’. Toxicology reports revealed that Dean had ketamine and alcohol in his blood system.

Ole described how he had seen Kit jump from the ledge when seconds later Dean ‘flew past’ and leaped into the water.

He said: “It was not a regular jump where people have their hands against their body – he was all over the place.”

The inquest heard that Dean resurfaced but seemed disorientated and swam in circles for 30 seconds before he disappeared under the water.

Several people shouted and jumped into the lake but they could not find Dean, and his body was recovered the next day.

Evidence disclosed by pathologist Dr Robert Mitchard, who carried out the post mortem, said he only found superficial injuries on Dean’s body and there was nothing to reveal the cause of his death.

He said the level of ketamine was low and was ‘not at sufficient levels to explain his death’.

Coroner Tony Williams recorded a verdict of death by misadventure, and said alcohol and ketamine must have been contributing factors.

Wayne added: “We are pleased there was no foul play involved.

“It is bad enough knowing it was a tragic accident never mind thinking there was some sort of foul play.”

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