Tributes paid to man found dead next to pond

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Headteacher Douglas Brawley with  Lib Dem Councillor Lynne Stagg outside Copnor Primary School Picture:  Malcolm Wells (180220)

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NEIGHBOURS have paid tribute to a man who was found dead beside a Portsmouth pond on Christmas Eve.

Police yesterday named the man as Andrew Bartlett, a 44-year-old father-of-two.

His body was discovered near Baffins Pond, in Baffins, by a couple out walking their dog.

He lived in nearby Chesterfield Road and was found on the path at the water's edge, with some of his belongings in the water.

Police believe he had been in the pond, but managed to pull himself out and crawl along the path before his death, which they have said they are not treating as suspicious.

A neighbour – who did not wish to be identified – said Mr Bartlett's death was a tragedy which had shocked the neighbourhood.

He said: 'It's so sad, our hearts go out to his family – especially his two children.

'He was a good man and never had an unkind word for anyone, we're all going to miss seeing him around.

'When things like this happen it's always tragic, but Christmas it just the worst possible time to get such bad news.'

Another neighbour added: 'What saddens me the most is that he was still so young.

'It's just such a horrible thing to have happened, no one can quite believe he's gone.'

Police and paramedics were called after the discovery was made at 8.35am on Christmas Eve.

They cordoned off the area around Baffins Pond while an investigation took place.

Neighbours said the man had been with family up until around 8.30pm on Thursday. He was married but had separated from his wife, Beverley.

It is not known where he went after the family gathering but residents in Baffins believe he had visited pubs.

Sonia Godfrey, the landlady of The Baffins pub, said: 'The police came in here and asked if they could look at the CCTV but it only points to the front door so it didn't help them.

'Everyone in here is really shocked about what happened.

'He may even have been in here at some point but I don't know because it's been so busy all week.

'I just think it's a real shame.'

A former dredger captain, Mr Bartlett was jailed for eight months in 2004 after admitting smashing his vessel through Hythe Pier, in Southampton Water, while drunk.

The 150ft ship Donald Redford, built in 1981 and based in Fareham, was heading out to sea at the time of the accident.

No one was injured, but it caused 300,000 worth of damage and a 75ft hole was ripped in the historic pier.

During the court case Mr Bartlett was described as 'a natural ship-handler' who had enjoyed 'an impressive career' over 20 years.

Defending the mariner his solicitor said he had been drinking that day because he was under pressure at work, and had problems at home with one of his children.

A date has not yet been set for an inquest.