Sidcup man drowned near unmanned Italian beach, inquest hears

Sperlonga beach. Photo credit: tripadvisor.com

Sperlonga beach. Photo credit: tripadvisor.com

First published in News by

A SIDCUP man drowned near an unmanned beach in Italy despite being a strong swimmer, an inquest has heard.

Brian Kent, 46, of Craybrooke Road, was dragged under the rough waters while enjoying an afternoon dip with his family in May last year.

His wife Sally Watson tearfully told the inquest at Croydon Coroner’s Court today (Jan 23) that she does not remember how she and her husband went from being waist-deep to fighting for their lives.

The couple had taken a trip to Rome with a large party of family and friends and on May 18 last year, took a day trip to Sperlonga beach.

Mrs Watson said her husband, who was known as Fred, was ‘quite active’ and in good health.

She told the court: "There were no warnings at all - nothing to suggest it was a dangerous beach. It just looked like something you see at Southend.

"They said we didn’t heed warnings, but there weren’t any warnings. No red flags, no lifeguard. There wasn’t even a rubber ring. It would be nice if someone said sorry."

She added she was not a confident swimmer, but Mr Kent, a commercial engineer, had taught sons Connor and Aaron to swim at a young age.

Her husband insisted they not venture out too far because she was still recovering from surgery she had undertaken on her should a few months earlier.

She said: "We were just messing about like we had most of the afternoon. Fred and I were in the water and I can’t remember how we got in trouble.

"He wouldn’t let me go too far. We were like waist-height and I didn’t want to go in too far. The next thing I kind of remember I think I went under.

"He was calling me so I came up and he was then calling for help.

"I just don’t remember how we got into trouble. That’s kind of a big miss for me. I wasn’t a strong swimmer at the time, but he was.

"I don’t understand it. It was confusing. He was calling out and now I look back on it was probably for me because he knew I couldn’t swim very well."

Mrs Watson added that she almost didn't make it back to shore herself.

She added: "I couldn’t see a great deal. I saw my son on the shore and then a big wave crashed down on me and I went under again.

"I shouted we had to get out of there because we were in danger and then he had stopped calling me.

"It took me a few minutes to get to shore but it seemed like forever.

"I said goodbye to everybody because I didn’t think I was going to make it either."

Recalling the series of events leading up to Mr Kent's death, she added: "We caught the train down there. We just got on the beach and were mucking around. Then we went for lunch. We all had the same pizza. He had two halves of lager. I had coffee.

"My timings are quite muddled. It was between 45 minutes and an hour later we went back in the water. We were lying on the sunbeds on the beach for quite a while."

A post-mortem examination carried out at Princess Royal Hospital in Kent after Mr Kent was repatriated gave the cause of death as immersion.

Coroner Roy Palmer recorded a verdict of death by accident.

He added he will be contacting authorities in Italy to investigate why a lifeguard was not on duty.

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