Barrymore pool victim 'had used drugs and drink'

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The Independent Online

A man found floating in the swimming pool at the home of the entertainer Michael Barrymore had taken drugs and drink before he died, an inquest was told yesterday.

Stuart Lubbock, a factory worker aged 31, was discovered wearing only his boxer shorts. Mr Lubbock, from Harlow, Essex, had met Mr Barrymore in a nightclub in the town hours earlier and had caught a taxi to the presenter's home in Roydon for a party with other men in the early hours.

PC Rick Jones, the coroner's officer, told the inquest that ambulance and hospital staff worked to revive Mr Lubbock after he was found but he was declared dead at 8.30am. Police sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service but were advised there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone over the death, PC Jones added.

The Essex and Thurrock coroner, Caroline Beasley-Murray, warned that "people's sexual and social activities" would be aired publicly only if relevant. "Not only have the family suffered a bereavement, I am very aware they have has to undergo considerable stress as the investigation has been carried out amid a climate of intense media interest," Mrs Beasley-Murray said. "Unfortunately, this stress will probably continue until the end of this inquest hearing." It is expected to take a week.

Mr Barrymore, 50, who for years was one of Britain's highest-paid television entertainers, did not attend yesterday's brief hearing but was represented by Michael Mansfield QC. He is expected to give evidence under his real name of Michael Parker.

The coroner said: "Everyone caught up by the death of Mr Lubbock has been profoundly affected. For everybody the strain will continue until the inquest is concluded."

She said: "No one is on trial", adding that "I am very conscious this inquiry is an investigation into a death and not an inquiry into people's sexual and social activities."

Mr Lubbock's father, Terrance, his mother, Dorothy, brother Kevin and former partner Claire Wilkes listened closely as the coroner's officer outlined the case. Mr Lubbock and his brother had been driven to a pub in Harlow by his father. The two men became separated after moving to the nearby Millennium Club where Mr Barrymore was out with friends.

Shortly after 2.30am Stuart Lubbock – described by his family as a "pleasant, sociable lad" – joined the host of My Kind Of Music and others in a taxi back to his house. Guests continued to arrive.

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Lubbock had been drinking and taking drugs. Mr Barrymore was cautioned for possession of cannabis and allowing his home to be used for smoking it. Two other partygoers, John Kenny, 31, and Justin Merritt, 26, were arrested but no charges were brought. The inquest continues.