HAILSHAM: Tragic yacht steward was ‘loved by so many’

Paul Morrison
Paul Morrison

CCTV captured the last moments of a Hailsham yacht steward’s life as he walked towards the sea just hours before he was found drowned in a Spanish port, an inquest heard.

Paul Morrison, who lived in Maryan Court when not working at sea, was found floating in a harbour near Barcelona after drunkenly stumbling back to the Paraffin luxury yacht in the early hours.

A CCTV camera recorded the 38-year-old pulling off his shoes and taking the crew’s master key from a cupboard at around 3.30am.

The black and white images then show him disembarking the 60-metre yacht and walking off towards the end of the jetty.

His sister Julie Barker, who has examined the CCTV footage, said, “When he came up [from getting the key] his appearance was different. He seemed disorientated as opposed to swaying, he kind of falls against the gate of the boat and then went to the back end of the boat and just stayed there to regain himself.

“And then, for some reason for which we will never know, rather than walking back to the crew’s quarter he went back down the jetty.

“For some reason he was more cautious walking down. And then, that was it.”

Mr Morrison, who had been working on the yacht for 18 months and had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Michael Douglas and Elizabeth Taylor during his 20 years at sea, was found dead near Port Vell’s harbour wall by a local fishermen, just 200 yards from the Paraffin on June 22, 2010.

Coroner Alan Craze ruled out suicide or any third party involvement in the death.

He recorded a verdict of misadventure at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday (May 13).

“I can be reasonably satisfied that from the CCTV there’s nobody else involved.

“I think that’s a fair assumption to make.

“So whatever happened to him, has happened under his own steam. There is clear evidence he was quite drunk,” said Mr Craze.

He added that he could not be entirely sure of the cause of death because a Spanish post-mortem – in which parts of organs were removed and not returned – and one carried out at Eastbourne DGH did not marry up. Although Mr Morrison had a number of symptoms associated with drowning, Mr Craze said an unhealthy heart could have caused a cardiac arrest. Ms Barker said, “We are disappointed that the evidence and information from the Spanish authorities was insufficient to conclude the cause of Paul’s death, and the circumstances surrounding his death.”

She added, “The loss of Paul has been a huge shock to us all and we all miss him greatly.

“We have been comforted by the tributes we have received from friends all around the world, Paul was liked and loved by so many.”