Family left waiting for explanation after Eastbourne motorcyclist, 31, dies suddenly in France

Andrew Pilbeam sadly died while on a motorcycling holiday. His inquest was held at Eastbourne Town Hall today.
Andrew Pilbeam sadly died while on a motorcycling holiday. His inquest was held at Eastbourne Town Hall today.

An Eastbourne family had to wait for more than two years to find out what happened to a father who died suddenly while on a motorbiking holiday in France.

A coroner today (December 20) called it ‘disgraceful’ that the French authorities had only recently handed over information explaining Andrew Pilbeam’s shocking death in a hotel room in June 2016.

The 31-year-old warehouse operative had been biking through France and Spain with two friends at the time, an inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall heard.

His friends grew concerned when Mr Pilbeam did not appear at breakfast after staying the night in a hotel in Ax-les-Thermes on June 20.

They alerted the manager who found him lying unconscious on the hotel room floor at about 9am. Tragically, despite emergency services’ attempts, he died.

French police said there were no suspicious circumstances around Mr Pilbeam’s death, while a French post mortem report found there was nothing out of the ordinary.

Reflecting on this, coroner Alan Craze said, “For them to take two years to send anything at all is disgraceful.

“I don’t think anywhere do they try to take a stab at what caused the death of a relatively young man.”

Mr Pilbeam, of Pulborough Avenue, had previously suffered chest pains and heart palpitations, according to his GP Dr David Price.

A report by Professor Mary Sheppard, a consultant in cardiovascular pathology, said it was most likely to have been a sudden adult cardiac death.

She advised family members to be screened for cardiac conditions, as the issue was believed to be genetic.

Mr Craze said, “They don’t produce any warning signs, you don’t get any warning at all. They are very, very, very rare.

“I could count fewer than 10 in the last 21 years [of being a coroner].”

He concluded Mr Pilbeam died of natural causes and expressed his condolences to the family.