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Death of gig photographer remains a mystery after inquest

PUBLISHED: 12:56 23 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:18 23 August 2018

Rob Powell. Picture: Courtesy the Powell family

Rob Powell. Picture: Courtesy the Powell family

Archant

The death of a popular Norwich photographer remains a mystery after a pathologist could not be sure of the cause of his death.

Music photographer Rob Powell, who died unexpectedly in February. Picture: Mark BarleyMusic photographer Rob Powell, who died unexpectedly in February. Picture: Mark Barley

Robert Powell, 37, was found dead at his home in Beechbank, Norwich, on February 6 this year and more than 100 people braved the snowy conditions to attend his funeral in March.

But an inquest into his death today (Thursday) heard that while he may have died after suffering an epileptic seizure, there was not enough evidence to show this was definitively the case.

Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Powell, who worked at Wex Photo Video, had suffered with what were thought to be epileptic seizures in 2005 and 2010.

The medical cause of death was given as unascertained but the inquest heard how the postmortem examination report said the pathologist “did hazard it might have been a sudden death of epilepsy”.

Photos taken by Rob Powell for Music Art Study. Picture: Music Art StudyPhotos taken by Rob Powell for Music Art Study. Picture: Music Art Study

MORE: Legacy of Norwich gig photographer to continue with memorial fund

A statement from Mr Powell’s parents Jane and Howard (known as Malcolm), said their son was a “kind and generous person” who was happier than he had been for a while.

The statement said his position at Wex was “a job he really loved as the company ethos was to treat the staff like family”.

Mr Powell, who was also a moderator on the well-known Secret Norwich Facebook page, had told his parents he enjoyed the job so much that even though the pay was not high, he would be happy to stay there until he retired.

The inquest also heard how Mr Powell was a gig photographer. His parents said: “He was a fly on the wall photographer, resulting in very many really natural shots.”

Photos taken by Rob Powell for Music Art Study. Picture: Music Art StudyPhotos taken by Rob Powell for Music Art Study. Picture: Music Art Study

The last time he was seen alive he had been parting with friend and colleague Stuart Whiley in the early hours of the morning on Sunday, February 4, after the pair had been to a Pam’s House event at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich the night before, at which Mr Powell had taken photos.

In a statement Mr Whiley said: “We left around 3am on the 4th of February and Rob drove back to Norwich. We drove back to his flat where I had left my bike. Rob was a nice guy and would not accept any money for the trip.”

MORE: “He took pictures and made them into works of art” - Tributes to Norwich music photographer Rob Powell

He added: “He did say he was contemplating not going to bed, staying up and then having an early night.”

But when Mr Powell did not turn up for work on the Monday or Tuesday, his supervisor alerted his parents, who went to his flat and found him on his bedroom floor.

Photos taken by Rob Powell for Music Art Study. Picture: Music Art StudyPhotos taken by Rob Powell for Music Art Study. Picture: Music Art Study

Area coroner Yvonne Blake gave a narrative conclusion and said: “Robert Powell was found deceased at home. He had suffered with seizures in the past but due to the passage of time the medical cause of death could not be ascertained.”

After Mr Powell’s death, tributes poured in from family and friends.

MORE: Rob’s legacy lives on at Hickling Broad SC

His father said: “He spent all his spare time following his passion for photography through supporting many live music and entertainment events throughout East Anglia. He had great respect for and was keen to support up and coming local musicians.

“We are all immensely impressed how his photographic skills have developed from winning the children’s photographic competition at a local village show at the age of eight.

Mr Powell Senior added his son will be “greatly missed” by the whole family.

“Rob did not have a straightforward path through his life and had many ups and downs but when times were hard he had an inner courage to smile and face each day as it came,” added Mrs Powell.

“So many have commented on his support of others, his generosity and honesty.”

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