Inquest into death of student's death records open verdict
AN inquest into the death of Southport student Adam Seaton has heard how police concluded he died from drowning but his family will never know whether he intended to take his own life or whether it was a tragic accident
Adam, a geography student at Edge Hill University, was the subject of a high profile missing persons appeal following his disappearance on August 9 of last year up until his body was found at Ribble Estuary on January 18.
His red Ford Fiesta was found parked at the RSPB reserve at Marshside, Southport.
At Sefton Coroner's Court on Friday May 17, Coroner Johanna Thompson recorded an open verdict of unascertained death. It was heard that the remains of the 19 year old had been found on mud flats and sand banks at Old Hollow Lane, Banks, by a PhD student researching bird numbers at the nature reserve.
The remains were subsequently examined by Home Office pathologist Dr Rogers at Royal Liverpool Hospital where DNA tests concluded it was the body of the missing student. The pathologist said there was evidence that the remains had been immersed in water at some stage and gave the cause of death as unascertained.
A report from Detective Inspector Jackie Guiness of Merseyside Police, provided to the inquest, said: “As officer in this case, I would conclude and hold the view that Adam, in the absence of any further information or evidence succumbed to the sea and drowned."
Saying "this is obviously not conclusive", she added: “Whether he intended to take his own life or this was a tragic accident, we will never know.”
Coroner’s Officer Alfred Howard-Murphy informed the court that after Adam went missing there had been extensive CCTV enquires in the area where he was last seen and that searches of the land and coastal areas continued over the whole period that he was missing.
The search was conducted over land and underwater with air support, search and rescue dogs; coast guard, drones and hovercraft, mostly in the sea off Sefton coast and Ribble Estuary.
Coroner Johanna Thompson said: “When answering how Adam came by his death the record will confirm that Adam was found deceased on the Ribble Estuary at Old Hollow Lane, Banks on 18 January 2019. in circumstances which remain unknown but in which no suspicious circumstances have been determined.
“In view of that my conclusion to Adam Seaton's death can only be one of unascertained death.”
Before concluding the hearing Coroner Mrs Thompson offered her “sincere condolences” to Adam's family and friends.
Adam's funeral took place on Emmanuel Parish Church, Southport, on Wednesday, February 20.
Adam’s family declined to speak to the media following the coroner’s inquest but at the time of his funeral, they described him as the “much-loved son of Karen and Andy, special brother to Helen, loving grandson of Alan and the late Pauline Carter and John Seaton and Aideen Seaton. Adam will be greatly missed by all his family, friends and colleagues.”
It was thought Adam was at the Ribble Estuary site preparing to undertake some fieldwork for his geography course. Following the discovery of his body, there were calls for better signage around Southport’s coastal marshes to warn people of the possible dangers of venturing out there.