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Inquest hears of King's Lynn man's fears over life after studies

A 25-year-old man from Lynn whose body was found in a lake in Norwich last year had become anxious about life after university, an inquest has heard.

Nicholas Sadler, a former King Edward VII (KES) Academy pupil, was found in the lake at the University of East Anglia (UEA) on February 19 – having disappeared from his Norwich home in the early hours of February 8.

The inquest, held in Lynn on Friday, was told that Mr Sadler, a film and television student at UEA, had started smoking cannabis in recent years, including on the night prior to his disappearance.

Nick Sadler (26391122)
Nick Sadler (26391122)

In a statement read to the court, Mr Sadler’s father William Sadler said he believed drugs “had played a part in his death”.

The inquest heard that Mr Sadler had suffered with anxiety for a number of years. He had been prescribed anti-depressants and had learned techniques to help him cope with the anxiety.

Upon applying for the course at UEA, Mr Sadler had informed the university of the situation with his mental health, and he was supported in a number of ways – including being assigned a mentor.

The court was told that in his first year of university, Mr Sadler had spoken of suicidal thoughts but said he had never attempted to act on them. He was regularly reviewed by his GP.

His mentor, Duncan Yuile, who Mr Sadler met with almost every week since he started university in 2015, said the last time he talked about suicide was in 2016.

The inquest was told that he "struggled for the best part of a year to deal with rejection" following the breakdown of a relationship in spring 2016.

Meanwhile, his academic advisor said, in the months leading up to his death, Mr Sadler seemed “excited” about a project he was going to be working on.

But his housemate Kieron Woodcock said in his last year of university, he had become anxious about the future and what he would do after completing his course.

His mentor Mr Yuile also said Mr Sadler was “more agitated than usual” during their final meeting together on February 6, but he said: “At no point during this time I was concerned for his safety”.

On the evening of Thursday, February 7, the inquest heard that Mr Sadler, Mr Woodcock and their two other housemates had played games together and gone to bed in the early hours of the next morning.

Mr Woodcock said he heard the back door shut at around 4am, but he did not become concerned for Mr Sadler’s safety until the weekend when he realised that no-one had seen him since February 7.

The court heard that Mr Sadler’s phone, wallet and keys had been left in his bedroom.

"This was completely out of character", Mr Woodcock said, in a statement read at the inquest.

Mr Woodcock reported Mr Sadler as missing to the police in the early hours of Sunday, February 10.

The inquest was told that CCTV footage showed Mr Sadler walking “purposefully” in the direction of UEA at about 4.30am on February 8, in just jeans and a T-shirt, despite the poor weather.

Police and fire crews searched the lake at the UEA on February 17 and 18, with a search dog indicating one particular area on both days.

A police diving team located a body on February 19, which was later confirmed as being that of Mr Sadler.

A post-mortem report said there was no evidence of trauma, and gave the medical cause of death as drowning.

Summing up, Jacqueline Lake, senior coroner for Norfolk, said: "Mr Sadler's father described him as generally a happy lad but he did suffer from anxiety for a number of years."

She said she did not find a conclusion of suicide as she could not say, on the balance of probabilities, that he intended to take his own life.

Mrs Lake recorded a narrative conclusion. She said: “My conclusion is that he was found dead having gone into the UEA lake. He had smoked cannabis prior to his death.”

Mrs Lake said she believed Mr Sadler had taken “full advantage” of the services offered to him by UEA.

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