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Death of James Corfield remains a mystery - inquest reveals

Created on 12/01/2018 @ 18:47
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A Montgomery young farmer whose body was recovered from the Rive Wye at Builth Wells died as a result of being suddenly immersed in cold water a Welshpool inquest recorded today.

Recording a verdict that James Corfield died as the result of an accident Powys Coroner Andrew Barkley said he believed Mr Corfield died in the water and in circumstances that were not clear.

He said it was possible he decided to cross the river and added: "I am acutely aware that the family are tormented by the lack of detail.”

Mr Corfield had been attending the Royal Welsh Show and was last seen on CCTV, at 11.56pm, on July 25th walking across a car park in Builth Wells, having earlier left a pub.

Mr Corfield's family raised the alarm at around 2pm on July 25 when he failed to meet them as arranged. The 19-year-old's body was found in the River Wye five days later, but the inquest heard a post-mortem examination found no direct evidence that he had drowned and that his medical cause of death remained a mystery.

Pathologist Richard Jones said there was no evidence of Mr Corfield being assaulted and said he could have died because of physiological problems related to a person being suddenly immersed in cold water, including hyperventilation and changes in heart rate, which he said were "very often fatal".

Dr Jones said there was no evidence about whether Mr Corfield had died in the water or out of it, or from any heart condition, and he could not give a medical cause of death.

Inspector Andrew Pitt, who led the search efforts, said initially Mr Corfield's disappearance was treated as low risk before being upgraded later that day after interviews with his friends failed to reveal the teenager's whereabouts.

He said he focused the search on the river because of its proximity to the bar.

Firefighters, dog units, boat teams, mountain rescuers, police officers from Dyfed-Powys, South Wales and Devon and Cornwall Police forces were joined by hundreds of volunteers in the search for the missing teenager.

His body was found submerged in the River Wye by divers on July 30 at around midday near to the confluence of the Rivers Wye and Irfon, in 3ft of water around 2,000ft from where he was last seen.

“I believe the most likely scenario is that he had tried to cross the river where the Wye and Irfon meet, possibly realising that he was on the wrong side of the river,” said Inspector Pitt.

He believed the teenager's body may have been in a deep pool near the confluence before moving into the shallower water, where it was found.

He said there was "no credible information" that there had been third party involvement in Mr Corfield's death.

The inquest heard Mr Corfield's blood alcohol level was 150mg per 100ml, the legal drink drive limit being 80mg per 100ml - but that some of that may have been produced after death.

The Coroner, Mr Barkley, said Mr Corfield was an extremely talented and entrepreneurial young man who was strong academically and in sports and was the perfect son and brother.

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