By Tom Bristow
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
A young fisherman died in a “terrible tragedy” during a fishing trip, Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said yesterday.
Scott Meekings was fishing alone overnight for the first time at Coston Lakes between Wymondham and Dereham when his body was found one metre from the shore.
At the inquest into the 16-year-old’s death yesterday, his mother Judith Meekings paid tribute to her son.
“He was such a lovely boy,” she said. “He was so kind to us like we were to him.
“If he was happy we were happy. He was just our life.”
The teenager from Dereham was found in the water at around 3.30pm on June 28 last year shortly before his father, Clive, was supposed to be picking him up.
Mrs Meekings said: “I liked him going fishing because he really enjoyed it and he was good at it.
“He saved all his money up to buy the best equipment. He was at his happiest when he was fishing.”
On Wednesday, June 27, Judith got home at 12.30pm and Scott asked his mother if he could go fishing.
“He had never been out fishing all night on his own before,” Mrs Meekings said. “He had asked many times before. I thought it was time to let him go on his own.”
She packed a coolbag full of ham sandwiches, crisps, fizzy drinks and a small bottle of Stella Artois beer.
“Scott and Clive went off but forgot the coolbag with all the food,” she said. “Scott came back laughing and I just waved at him and that was the last time I saw him.”
His father drove him to the lake from their home in Larks Place, Dereham and helped him set up his fishing equipment, before leaving at 8.30pm.
“I didn’t want to go and he didn’t want me to go,” he recalled yesterday. At 2.30am on June 28, Scott texted his mother to say he had caught a 15lb fish and the next morning he spoke to his father on the phone at 11.40am and was in good spirits.
Other fishermen saw Scott at the water’s edge on June 28 and said he was in a good mood, concentrating on his fishing.
But at 3.30pm fisherman Nigel Lambert saw a shadow in the water as he walked past the lake.
“I looked back and noticed something strange,” he said. “One of the rods was pointing downwards. I noticed there was a body floating in the lake.”
He found another fisherman, Karl Wright, who called 999.
Mr Meekings said: “I rushed over there and when I got to the gate there was a police van sitting there.”
The policeman told him there had been an incident with Scott.
“I couldn’t believe what he was telling me,” he said. “It didn’t make sense.”
Mrs Meekings said: “Clive came in and just said, ‘this is the worst news you’re ever going to hear. Scott’s never coming home’.”
Recording a verdict of death by accidental drowning, Mr Armstrong said: “It remains a mystery as to how Scott got in the water. Scott’s death has been a terrible tragedy.”
The family have raised £2,500 in Scott’s memory.
They have donated £1,000 to his former school, Douglas Bader at the former RAF Coltishall base, which will be used to buy equipment for a new classroom.
His family said woodwork and design were his favourite subjects, and he had a passion for music alongside fishing.
The talented 16-year-old built a pair of speakers from scratch and on Saturday night his friends held a party in his honour.
And his family praised his friends for supporting them and their fundraising efforts.