Man’s death on rocks remains a mystery

Police, ambualnce and coastguard crew members recover a body that was found on rocks at  between Whitburn and Seaburn on Monday.''file pic
Police, ambualnce and coastguard crew members recover a body that was found on rocks at between Whitburn and Seaburn on Monday.''file pic

THE final moments of a man found dead on a South Tyneside beach will remain a mystery.

The body of Peter Lundie was discovered near rocks at Whitburn last summer.

But an inquest yesterday could not shed light on how the 56-year-old died, with South Tyneside District coroner Terence Carney ruling out suicide.

Police had been called to the rocks at about 10.44am on August 16, where they found the half-clothed body of a man.

Near where he was found, a rucksack, containing empty blister packets of anti-depressants and a set of house keys, was recovered.

The inquest heard neighbours last saw Mr Lundie of Netherburn Road, Sunderland, 24 hours before he was found, and described him as a friendly person.

Mr Carney was also told the father-of-one had been a carer for his mum, Catherine, and was left devastated by her death in June 2009.

His brother, Gerard Lundie, said: “He took the death of mam hard, as she was central to his life.”

A post mortem examination revealed Mr Lundy was suffering from heart disease. He also had cuts and bruising to his body consistent with his time in the water.

Pathologist Kirsten Hope believed that heart disease could have contributed to his death.

She said: “If someone is immersed in cold water who has heart disease, they may not be able to cope – this may have been a contributing factor.

“Given the circumstances and the external injuries, it’s heavily suggestive his death has been due to immersion in water and that he has drowned.”

Pc Graeme Taylor, of Northumbria Police, said: “The coastguard confirmed it is quite common in that area, with the force of the tide, that the body would have been pushed about, which was consistent with his clothes coming off.”

Summing up, Mr Carney said: “There are a number of unanswered questions. Yes, there were empty blister packs, but they may have been from another time. But he certainly did not take the tablets, as the toxicology results show.

“The first unanswered question is where he was between the 15th and the 16th and, ultimately, where did he go into the water?

“The fact is, if he did slip into the cold water, there is always the possibilty that this has resulted in him losing conciousness as a consequence of that, and ultimately dying due to the effects of being immersed in water.

“I cannot record a verdict of accidental death as I am not sure, or that it is the effect of natural causes, as I am not sure. What I can say quite categoriocally is there is no evidence of suicide.”

Verdict: Open

lisa.nightingale@northeast-press.co.uk