AN INQUEST into the death of a former skipper from Falmouth has concluded after being adjourned due to questions raised over the presence of prescription drugs found in his system.

Sturgis Watts, 47, from Falmouth, died on August 14, 2021 having drowned after getting into difficulty while swimming at Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth.

Sturgis had been a skipper on several boats over the years, however, an accident at work had unfortunately left him unable to continue in this line of work. 

In its first hearing back in February, the inquest was told how Sturgis had suffered from medical conditions that meant he could only exercise comfortably while swimming and was taking medications to help him manage these conditions.

The cause of death, as stated by both the police and the post mortem report, was reported to have been accidental drowning, however, it was also noted that a combination of excess alcohol and Sertraline- a medication commonly used for depression, may have contributed to his death.

Before Assistant Coroner Stephen Covell read out his findings of fact, a member of Sturgis's family asked why certain prescription drugs had not been included in the GP report, particularly given research into the effects of Sertraline use in alcohol dependant people.

The Assistant Coroner agreed that these questions needed to be answered and adjourned the inquest so as to allow time for answers to be provided to the family.

During the first inquest, it was also stated that Sturgis had been alcohol dependant for a number of years and toxicology reports read out as evidence at the inquest stated that, a the time of his death, he had a blood alcohol content of 131 per 100m of blood.

For context, the legal blood alcohol content limit for driving is 80 per 100ml of blood.

As well as this, it was found that Sturgis had a level of Sertraline in his blood that was higher than the therapeutic dose, along with traces of other prescription medications.

During its resumption, the inquest heard how Sturgis had been prescribed a number of drugs due to suffering from several medical conditions including depression and seizures.

The inquest also heard that, during the last year of his life, Sturgis had also made several attempts to detoxify from alcohol.

During his findings of fact, Assistant Coroner Stephen Covell said: "Sturgis Watts died as a result of having drowned whilst swimming.

"The toxicology evidence indicated raised levels of alcohol and drugs in his body.

"Sturgis was a strong swimmer.

"He was also suffering from seizures and took medications to reduce and manage those.

"Nevertheless, one of the pieces of advice for those who suffer seizures is they shouldn't swim."

A metabolite of a prescription drug which could have been prescribed during Sturgis' last detoxification was also found in his body, however, Assistant Coroner Stephen Covell claimed he could not reach a conclusion as to where it had come from.

He said: "My best estimate was that it may have been Diazapam which was given to Sturgis during the last detox which he underwent at the beginning of July, four to five weeks before the incident.

"It could have been still subsisting in his body."

"Those factors may have contributed, but evidence is insufficient to say whether they were a significant factor."

The Assistant Coroner continued: "The sea and swimming were something that was very important to Sturgis.

"He made a choice that he wanted to continue enjoying the sea despite the fact that it presented a risk."