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Ex-helicopter engineer and paramedic found dead in churchyard

PUBLISHED: 13:29 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:45 11 February 2020

Police at St Marys Church in Diss when Robert Worthington's body was found      Picture: Simon Parkin

Police at St Marys Church in Diss when Robert Worthington's body was found Picture: Simon Parkin

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An ex-helicopter engineer and paramedic who became homeless was found dead in a church graveyard, an inquest has heard.

Robert Worthington, 47, who was a rough sleeper, was found unresponsive in the grounds of St Mary's Church on Mount Street, Diss, by a team of groundsman just before 9am on April 30, 2019, while they were cutting grass.

An inquest, held at Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich on February 11, heard that Mr Worthington had previously had a career in the Royal Navy before spending 10 years working for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) as a paramedic.

Evidence from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), his GP and his wife revealed Mr Worthington had a long history of heavy drinking which caused him to lose his paramedic job in 2011.

In a written statement, his wife Helen Worthington, whom he had separated from, said: "Robert was a loving son, husband and father. He was much-loved and respected by former colleagues."

She was sad that his life had taken such a decline.

The father-of-two was discovered with a bag of belongings and there were no suspicious circumstances.

Overnight temperatures around the time of Mr Worthington's death were cold.

The former serviceman's GP, Dr Andreas Pantazis from the Lawns Medical Practice in Diss, said his patient was a heavy drinker in 2008 and would drink up to nine units of alcohol per day.

At the time Mr Worthington worked as an ambulance technician for the EEAST bus was never drunk at work during that period.

Kymm Loveday, a mental health nurse for NSFT, said Mr Worthington was first put in touch with the service in 2014 and continually denied having mental health problems.

She added he often did not engage with its alcohol support services and was last seen by her in February 2019 after being arrested by police.

Ms Loveday said: "Mr Worthington was a pleasant gentleman with symptoms of long-term alcohol dependency."

Senior coroner Jacqueline Lake said Mr Worthington died from an alcohol-related death and recorded the medical cause of death as hypothermia and acute liver intoxication.

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