Belfast Telegraph

Coroner can't explain drowning death of camper Anthony Griffiths in Donegal

Anthony Griffiths drowned in Donegal in 2016
Anthony Griffiths drowned in Donegal in 2016
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A Coroner in the Republic has returned an open verdict on the death of a Londonderry man who drowned on a camping trip.

The inquest into the death of Anthony Griffiths (59), from Culmore, heard how he and his wife Leonie and a number of other family members visited the Isle of Doagh in Co Donegal on August 29, 2016.

Yesterday Mrs Griffiths told a court sitting in Buncrana that when the family arrived they pitched their tents and had a barbecue.

She urged her husband to have something to eat because he had drunk a bottle of wine.

After playing cards, the couple went for a walk along the shore, with Mr Griffiths admiring the stars in the sky.

When they returned, he told his wife that he wanted to sleep outside and would later move to his car.

Mrs Griffiths emerged from her tent at approximately 9.30am the following day and went to find her husband.

While she was unable to locate him, she assumed he had gone to the beach and was not initially concerned for his safety.

After further attempts to find him proved unsuccessful, Mrs Griffiths began to feel that something was wrong.

At 3pm she reported her husband missing to gardai in Carndonagh.

The authorities subsequently launched a two-day search for the missing man, involving the police, coastguard and members of the public.

The operation came to an end on September 1, when Mr Griffiths' body was discovered on rocks by the crew of the coastguard helicopter.

In a statement to the court, Mrs Griffiths said her family was called to a cafe used as a search base and told a body had been discovered.

She said she was desperately sad because she would "probably never know" what had happened to her husband.

Mrs Griffiths added she did not think "God would be cruel enough to take her husband and her mother within three weeks of each other."

A pathologist from Letterkenny hospital told the inquest that a post-mortem examination carried out on Mr Griffiths' remains confirmed that he had died from drowning.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said that while it was clear the victim had drowned, he could not say beyond reasonable doubt if he had entered the water accidentally or intentionally.

He added that he therefore had no option but to return an open verdict.

Members of Mr Griffiths' family told the coroner they felt sure he was not suicidal.

They added that, in their opinion, there was no way he would have entered the water intentionally.

Dr McCauley accepted that was what the family felt, but stressed he had to reach a verdict based on the evidence available to him.

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