Gareth Jones died in ‘heroic act’ while trying to save his dog in Hove Brighton News

A FATHER drowned while trying to save his dog in a “heroic act,” a coroner has said.

Gareth Jones was reported missing on Saturday January 16 after he failed to return from walking his family’s dog Connie in the Hove Lagoon area.

A huge search was launched for Wilbury Gardens’ father of three, Hove, with hundreds of volunteers supporting emergency teams as they scoured the Brighton and Hove coastline.

Connie, the family’s brown cockapoo, was found dead on Brighton beach two days later on January 18. The next morning, the body of the 69-year-old man was found at Tide Mills, near Newhaven.

During the inquest into her death today at Brighton Coroner’s Court, DC Tessa Lovell of Sussex Police said the force received CCTV footage showing Gareth throwing herself into the sea after Connie and described the “colossal waves” that were coming.

The Argus: a huge search operation has been launched to find Gareth after his disappearanceA huge search operation has been launched to find Gareth after his disappearance

Chief Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said the high tide was 6.2 meters.

She said: “It’s a huge volume of water and almost exactly when Gareth came in to save Connie.

“In its own way, it was a heroic act.

“People say don’t go in the water after your dog, but who wouldn’t? If you love your dog as a member of your family, of course you would.

“All along the coast, from the Statue of Peace to Hove Lagoon, there is also this huge shelf that catches people. You can walk in the water at low tide and all of a sudden you’re six feet lower.

“But even without that drop, I think the state of the water that day would have made survival difficult.

“He would have been overwhelmed immediately.”

The coroner concluded that Gareth’s death was an accident and gave his cause of death as drowning in seawater.

The court heard that earlier today Gareth had bought some fish for cooking and was eagerly awaiting a night by the fire with his family watching football.

Speaking to her partner Shirley, Mrs Hamilton-Deeley said: “There aren’t many blessings, but everything he has done in the past few hours has been done with love – for you and for you. Connie.

“He was obviously an incredible guy, and completely irreplaceable.”

The Argus: Gareth Jones was described as 'remarkable' by his son RobbieGareth Jones has been called ‘remarkable’ by his son Robbie

Gareth was born in Cardiff and was an independent management consultant who had previously worked as a lecturer at universities in several countries, as well as as a human resources manager at the BBC.

After his death, tributes poured in for Gareth, who was described as a “strong and sociable” character by his family.

His son Robbie, 24, said Gareth’s local pub Watchmaker’s Arms in Hove will feature a new draft beer in honor of his father when it reopens next month.

He said: “We are happy that the investigation has been completed, as this is another important milestone.

“We just want to say how remarkable our father was and we are very grateful for all the tributes that have been paid to us.

“There have been stories from all kinds of people, be it his business friends or academics, about all the advice he has offered to people over the years.

“These are the kinds of stories we cling to.

“My sisters Rhian and Gemma both say that we are all going to be more like Gareth – which means seizing opportunities, drinking lots of beer and being kind to each other, and always supporting the underdog.”

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This notice was published: 2021-04-13 16:06:00