Paul Cook, known as Cooky to his friends, was found in Littlewood in Stokenchurch splayed out in the bathroom with his neck on the rim of the tub
A drunken husband fell over while using the toilet in the bathroom and died when his neck landed on the rim of the bath and he was asphyxiated by a lack of oxygen, an inquest heard today.
Former builder Paul Cook was four times the drink-driver limit when he landed on the bath and was incapable of prising himself up. He did not even have time to flush the loo before he toppled over.
Paul, known as Cooky to his friends, was found by his housemate splayed out in their bathroom with his neck on the rim of the tub, causing ‘positional asphyxia’ – a lack of oxygen due to way he was lying.
The 45-year-old former builder was visiting the country from Switzerland where he lived with his wife Lucy, who told the inquest into his death that he was a heavy drinker.
Dr Peter Johnson, who carried out a post mortem examination found the concentration of alcohol in his blood was four times the drink-drive limit but that it was only a causative factor in Paul’s death.
The inebriation would have caused his ‘normal instincts to be subdued’ according to Dr Johnson.
Paul Nash, who found the body on January 22 this year, provided a statement to Crispin Butler, the Senior Coroner for Buckinghamshire.
Mr Nash said: ‘I got home to Littlewood in Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire, at about 7.30pm on January 22.
‘I had known Paul since 1987. He used to drink a three litre bottle of cider every day. He didn’t used to go out to drink but that may have changed.
‘I had emailed him to say I would be home early than planned the day before and he said he would make dinner.
‘When I got back the lights were on and the curtains were open.
‘I went inside and called out for him but got no response.
‘I went upstairs to the bathroom as the door was ajar.
‘I could see Cooky resting against the bath. I called out but he was unresponsive.
‘He was lying straight until his chest, and his back arched up so his hands and neck were on the edge of the bath.
‘He was just in his boxer shorts. He looked like he had been going for a wee.
‘It was hard to move him as he was stiff. I tried CPR and called 999.’
The emergency services rushed to the scene and but by 7:40 pm Paul Cook was declared dead at the scene.
Paul’s wife Lucy told proceedings: ‘For Paul the levels of alcohol in his blood would have been normal.
‘Not once has he had a problem with movement.’
Dr Johnson said that it was possible he may have had a fit or a seizure, causing him to fall.
He said: ‘He may have had a fit but we have no evidence of that. It is possible but it would be conjecture.’
When I arrived to support the uniformed officers, we found that Paul hadn’t even had a chance to flush the toilet. The post mortem and toxicology confirmed that acute alcohol toxicity had led to positional asphyxia
Paul’s sister agreed that he had suffered from fits before. She said: ‘I had found him in fit-like states in the bathroom before.’
Police attended the scene at Littlewood, Stokenchurch, to establish if there was any foul play but it was quickly determined that there were no suspicious circumstances.
Detective Constable Chris Hatton of Thames Valley Police said: ‘When I arrived to support the uniformed officers, we found that Paul hadn’t even had a chance to flush the toilet.’
In his his conclusion, Mr Butler determined the death to be accidental.
He said: ‘The post mortem and toxicology confirmed that acute alcohol toxicity had led to positional asphyxia.
‘The death was not due to alcohol, it was accidental.’
Paul lived with his wife in Switzerland where he was a ‘Hausmann’ or houseman in German, and looked after the couple’s house. Born in Brent, London, he had been visiting the UK since December.