Man died after falling into Paris moat, Portsmouth inquest is told

Les Invalides
Les Invalides

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A British businessman who had lived in Hampshire died after he fell into a 10ft deep dry moat during some late-night sight-seeing in Paris, a Portsmouth inquest has heard.

Simon Bartlett, who worked for a firm of architectural engineers, had finished a dinner with colleagues in the French capital when he visited Les Invalides, an historic complex of Army museums in the early hours of June 28 last year.

Detective Constable Christopher Dinenage told the Portsmouth inquest that the 49-year-old father-of-three was found lying face down at the bottom of the dry moat surrounding the building.

Mr Dinenage said that French police had viewed CCTV footage which showed Mr Bartlett had been unsteady on his feet and they had concluded he had fallen while stopping next to the moat.

He added that colleagues had told him that Mr Bartlett had been keen to do some sight-seeing but had been unable to do so because of the tight schedule of the business trip.

A post mortem examination showed that Mr Bartlett was three-and-a-half times over the alcohol drink-drive limit and he died as a result of severe head injuries.

Coroner David Horsley recorded a verdict that Mr Bartlett - who lived in Flemington, New Jersey, USA, but who was born in Yeovil, Somerset, and who had studied and lived in Portsmouth before moving abroad - had died as a result of an accident.

He said: “What a terrible tragedy. I am so awfully sorry that such an intelligent, lively person has died in a way like this.”

He added: “His death would have been instantaneous, he wouldn’t have been aware of any discomfort, it would have happened in a split-second.”