Two psychic mediums could have assisted in finding the body of a Stratford man who drowned in the Patea River.
It was 10 days after his death when the family, given general directions by the mediums, finally discovered Stephen John Murphy's body.
Coroner Tim Scott, who released his decision today, has determined the 36-year-old beneficiary accidentally drowned after falling into the Patea River on Sunday, September 1 last year.
The coroner said his ruling that the death was an accident should set the record straight after rumour and speculation within the Stratford community as to what happened and why.
When friends and family were unable to find him, his sister Adelle McKee made contact with psychic mediums Donna and Alex Fairclough who told them the general area in Stratford's King Edward Park to search.
About 10.30pm on September 10 his body was found.The post mortem found his death was due to drowning.
The toxicology report detected 100mg of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
The legal blood-alcohol limit is 80mg. There were also traces of cannabis.
Murphy and his friend Loretta White had been drinking a bottle of whisky on the Sunday, the coroner said.
He left with his dog Roxy to visit a friend, Dave Gibson. But when Murphy became obnoxious, Gibson asked him to leave.
Later that day Rosina Vecchia was walking through King Edward Park and heard a drunken man calling out, possibly to a dog, saying ''Get back here.''
She saw a man she described as white, short and scruffy.
At the same time another woman, Shirley Vosseler was walking a dog in the same area of the park and heard a male voice.
The male sounded intoxicated and/or on drugs.
A black dog came out of the bushes and followed her back to the Star Liquor Store where her daughter worked.
Dave Gibson identified the dog as Roxy.
The coroner said while Murphy was significantly affected by alcohol he was not totally intoxicated.
He was known to be a heavy drinker.
He was also known to have seizures.
He was probably trying to call his dog back to him and could have been searching the bush on the riverbank, the coroner said.
''He either slipped and fell into the river - his state of intoxication contributed to this and-or had an unexpected seizure.
''Both may have occurred. I have no way of determining that.Once in the river he was unable to get out.''
There was no evidence to suggest a knock to the head rendered him unconscious.
''I am completely satisfied that his death was a result of accidental drowning.''
There is no evidence to suggest that he took his own life by suicide. Nor is there any evidence to suggest that there was third party involvement and that his death was a homicide.
''The part played by the psychic mediums Alex and Donna Fairclough in assisting family and friends to locate Stephen provides an interesting twist to an otherwise sad event.''
- Taranaki Daily News
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