Mervyn's death is still a mystery

Questions still remain unanswered following an inquest into the death of a man who drowned in a Wigan canal after going missing.

Monday, 20th June 2016, 6:00 am
Mervyn Craig

Bolton Coroner’s Court heard it was not possible to establish how Mervyn Craig came to be found in the water near Seven Stars Bridge on March 7.

Mr Craig, 46, travelled from his native Northern Ireland looking for work shortly after Christmas but disappeared from the Scholes address where he was living in February.

His body was found almost exactly a month after he was last seen, with assistant coroner Simon Jones recording an open conclusion.

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The court heard a post-mortem investigation ruled out any suspicious circumstances as there were no visible injuries on Mr Craig’s body.

There was no evidence he had drunk alcohol and the only drugs in his system were several anti-depressant tablets he had been prescribed by a Wigan GP.

Pathologist Dr Naveen Sharma said the lack of other plausible explanations led him to record drowning as the cause of death.

Investigations by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) also ruled out any third party involvement, saying there was no evidence of struggle or disturbance on the canal bank close to where he was found.

Lisa Kilmartin, whose house in Scholes he was living in, told the court that when she last saw Mr Craig he was acting in an agitated manner and discussions had taken place with a family member about taking him back to Northern Ireland.

He left the house and then got into a takeaway driver’s vehicle as Ms Kilmartin was in the process of coaxing him back to the house.

She also told the court he had been drinking vodka and then cut back by switching to lager, despite a statement from his daughter Samantha Craig saying the family believed he had quit alcohol about five years ago.

Officers from GMP said two sightings of Mr Craig were reported on February 8 within an hour, one from a car dealership on Wallgate and the other from a taxi firm. In both locations he was acting in an agitated manner.

Following the second report police immediately sent officers to the area but could not find him. Underwater scanning of the canal was also carried out but this did not turn up any sign of him.

His body was eventually discovered at around 9am on March 7 and it was clear when it was retrieved that it had been in the water for days or even weeks.

Recording his conclusion, Mr Jones said: “I see no reason to challenge drowning as the cause of death.

“It is inevitable in some inquests that how someone died is a question that cannot be answered completely.

“We do not know the circumstances in which he came to be in the canal. We cannot reach a conclusion because there are too many possibilities.”

“I offer my condolences to the family, though I recognise nothing that I can say will be of comfort.”