The "tragic case" of a fisherman who fell into the water after a night out drinking, died of accidental causes, an inquest heard today (Thursday, October 29).

Fernand Mussche, 56, of Nieuwpoort, Belgium, fell into the water at the Port of Milford Haven while trying to get back onto the boat.

Maggie Julien, the acting coroner’s officer, told the court that Mr Mussche lived in Pemenhoek, Nieuwpoort, and had been employed as a deckhand on the Zilvermeeuw.

After arriving at Milford Haven docks on Sunday, November 10, 2019, the crew were informed by that their vessel's positioning system was broken, and they would not be able to leave until it was repaired.

Mr Mussche suggested they go to the pub in Milford Haven, to which the other crew members agreed.

Mr Mussche and other members of the crew started drinking on board, before heading into Milford Haven where he consumed a considerable amount of alcohol.

When they returned to the Zilvermeeuw, a colleague offered his hand as support but this was rejected by Mr Mussche.

"He swayed to his left and tried to grab onto the box frame of the ship, as he did this he slipped and fell into the water between the ship and the dock wall,” Ms Julien said.

The crew tried to help him out of the water but were initially unable to do so.

Using a winch, the crew lifted Mr Mussche from the water and started performing CPR and mouth to mouth.

Police and ambulance crews took Mr Mussche to Withybush Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Paul Bennet, the acting senior coroner for Pembrokeshire, said the level of alcohol in Mr Mussche's blood was 269mg per 100ml - 3.3 times the driving alcohol limit.

Mr Bennet said: "This is a tragic case of somebody who had been working for a considerable amount of time on vessels at sea and was, therefore, in my view, used to the risks and hazards of that type of work.

"It is particularly tragic, therefore, that Mr Mussche should have met his death when the boat on which he was working was in fact docked at Milford Haven and it was in the process of trying to board the boat that he slipped and fell into the dock thereby drowning."

Recording his conclusion, Mr Bennet said: "Mr Mussche died on November 12, 2019, at Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest, having fallen into the dock at Milford Haven and drowned.

“My conclusion is one of accidental death.”