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The death of 35-year-old Nigerian social worker who died at a James Bond-themed swingers party after he told his friend he was attending an evening church service has been ruled as an accident on Thursday, August 25th, 2016 at Herts Coroner’s Court. Edmund Echukwu, who was born in Nigeria and lived at Springwood Crescent in Edgware, attended the swingers party at Littlecroft on Theobald Street in Radlett but later died after he was pulled from the bottom of a swimming pool in the early hours of March 28 2015.
The father of three told an organiser he had attended before but it was actually his first time. Richard Stanley and Janet Harrison, who own Radlett Parties, organise a monthly party at their home and Mr Echukwu had called on the Thursday (March 26) beforehand to enquire about attending.
In evidence submitted to the inquest at Herts Coroner’s Court, Janet Harrison said: “He said he wanted to make new friends and try new things. He sounded lonely and I felt a little sorry for him.”
The inquest heard that Mr Echukwu was one of the later party guests to arrive and met another guest, known only to the court as Rachael, on the dance floor. When giving evidence, Rachael told the court that she thought he did not appear drunk and was very polite.
The pair then went to Rachael’s car to collect her towel and entered the pool together; Rachael with two floats as she could not swim ‘very well’. It was when they entered the deep part of the swimming pool that Mr Echukwu suddenly ‘grabbed’ her neck and she ‘wriggled’ away and went to the side of the pool.
“He was by my side and this part of the pool is very deep. I couldn’t touch the bottom. He just grabbed my neck and pulled me under the water. I had to push him away because I feared he would drown me and pull me under.”
The court heard that herself and two other men at the scene saw Mr Echukwu wave his hands above the water and soon became concerned. She told the court that another party-goer said :
“He’s been under way too long.”
The two men ran to get someone to help rescue Mr Echukwu and several minutes later Richard Stanley arrived and dived into the pool.
In his evidence submitted to the court, Mr Stanley said:
‘I saw a black man lying on the bottom of the pool.”
CPR was performed on Mr Echukwu by various guests and an ambulance was called. Mr Echukwu was taken to Watford General and pronounced dead at 1.38am. There was a dispute as to whether Mr Echukwu could swim as he told Rachael he had been swimming with his two-year-old son recently, but his estranged partner, and mother of his two other children, told the police that he did not.
His friend, Anthony Okonkuwo, also submitted evidence which described how he knew Mr Echukwu and the events leading up to his death. In the statement he said that Mr Echukwu had seemed ‘stressed’ due to his immigration status and they had watched a football match together that day. Mr Echukwu then told him he was going to attend an evening mass at their church.
In evidence Det Con Robert Wood said that a number of the guests left the scene and many of those who remained gave false contact information.
A post-mortem found that the alcohol in his system was only slightly above the drink-driving limit at 81mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Senior coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said that he could not be sure that Mr Echukwu could not swim and recorded a verdict of accidental death, giving the cause of death as immersion and minor alcohol intoxication. The coroner added:
“It was the result of a sad accident. It was the result of an unfortunate accident. He appeared to be playing around in the pool but went under the water and did not re-surface.”
.: Hert Advertiser
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