Open verdict recorded into death of Ipswich man who drowned at Essex beach

Essex Coroner's Court

Essex Coroner's Court - Credit: Lucy taylor

A much-loved dad drowned after walking into the sea with his new lover, an inquest heard.

B Vega, 51, formerly known as Mark Stephen Dale, drove to St Osyth beach with a 40-year-old woman he was “head over heels in love with”.

He was pulled from the water by a retired soldier who spotted him in difficulty, but died shortly afterwards.

Essex Coroners’ Court in Chelmsford yesterday heard how following Mr Vega’s death on May 13 his partner, who has not been named, was arrested for the offence of assisting a suicide.

A police investigation into the circumstances of Mr Vega’s death is ongoing and the woman is due to answer police bail on September 7.

Detective sergeant Tim Coyles told the court: “My belief is there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. The officers who attended the scene, the evidence from the gentleman who tried to save Mr Dale, led us to the decision it was not suspicious.

“Officers initially considered an offence of attempted murder, and then murder, but once the dust settled an offence of assisted suicide was considered, and is still considered.”

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The inquest heard the couple had been living together in a rented home in Ipswich and both were estranged from their respective children.

Caroline Beasley-Murray, Essex senior coroner, told the court Mr Vega and his new partner had been disrupted by a farmer in a previous suicide attempt in April.

Mr Vega’s mother, Teresa Dale was at the hearing with his brother Phil and father, Paul.

Asked by Mrs Beasley-Murray if they thought Mr Vega intended to kill himself, she said “Although his family situation had been very distressing he became very positive.”

Mrs Dale told the court the pair seemed “head over heels in love with each other”, and when the family visited they seemed happy and positive.

She added: “You can’t tell what was going on in their heads, you just go to accept it.”

Mrs Dale blasted mental health services for not helping the couple at their first attempt, saying the family had been inundated with support leaflets since Mr Vega’s death but he received very little when he needed it most.

Mrs Dale added: “I can’t believe two people that were obviously so vulnerable could have been left in that state.”

A post-mortem examination carried out at Colchester General Hospital found the primary cause of death to be drowning, and then heroin and cocaine intoxication.

Mrs Beasley-Murray said: “I have considered suicide not least because of what she [his partner] was saying afterwards and the chequered history they both had.

“To record suicide I would have to be sure he formed the intention and took deliberate action, and I’m not sure.

“We will never quite know what was going through his mind as entered the sea I’m going to record an open conclusion.

“He seemed a very intelligent gentleman. What a tragedy.”

Mr Vega, who was an unemployed structural engineer, is survived by his parents, Paul and Teresa, brother Phil, sisters Julia, Katie and Lucy and his three daughters Alice, Yvie and Phoebe.