Man found dead close to spot where his beloved dog Blotch died
RETIRED bridgekeeper Graham Spencer, 65, was found dead in a canal close to the spot where his beloved dog Blotch had drowned a few months earlier, an inquest heard.
Police investigating his death found evidence Mr Spencer had written a note apologising for his actions and saying he had "gone to Blotch".
Speaking after the inquest, friends Marjorie and David Southall said they had known Mr Spencer for 40 years, who had lived with Parkinson's disease for 13 years, which affected his walking and balance.
They said he had been badly affected by the death of his 18-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Blotch, but had appeared to get over the loss.
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Mr Southall said: "He loved Blotch, who had been his friend for 18 years but once you fall into the canal it is impossible to get out again without help.
"There is no way with Graham's Parkinson's disease that he would have been able to heave himself out as the water level is a couple of feet below the bank."
He added: "Graham was a generous and devoted father of three and grandfather of five who would do everything possible for them. He used to write funny jazz and folk songs, something he continued until the end. He also wrote short stories."
A coroner ruled there was not enough evidence to prove Mr Spencer had committed suicide, instead recording an open verdict.
The Gloucester inquest heard Mr Spencer had left home for his usual morning walk on May 4 but did not return.
An extensive search involving the police, fire service, coastguard and the Severn Area Rescue Association was launched and Mr Spencer's body was discovered in the Gloucester to Sharpness canal near his home at Fretherne Bridge House in Saul.
In the days before his death, Mr Spencer renewed his car tax, voted in a local council election, ordered some of his favourite cigars and arranged to visit a friend in Portsmouth.
But an A4 notepad, with indented markings of writing on it, was found at the end of his bed. Police found it contained apologies from Mr Spencer for his actions and said that he had "gone to Blotch".
Cause of death was confirmed as drowning.
Gloucestershire deputy coroner David Dooley said it was a "sad case" of a 65-year-old man who had no signs of dementia, depression or mental health problems but did have problems with balance due to his Parkinson's disease.