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Mystery remains over death of ex-Marine found on beach

PUBLISHED: 16:58 11 August 2020

Former Royal Marine Lee Fitzgerald, from Gislingham, has been missing for more than 10 days and is believed to have travelled to Great Yarmouth. Picture: FITZGERALD FAMILY

Former Royal Marine Lee Fitzgerald, from Gislingham, has been missing for more than 10 days and is believed to have travelled to Great Yarmouth. Picture: FITZGERALD FAMILY

FITZGERALD FAMILY

Mystery remains over the lead-up to the death of a 47-year-old former Royal Marine who was found on Winterton Beach, an inquest has heard.

Former Royal Marine Lee Fitzgerald has been missing for more than 10 days. Picture: FITZGERALD FAMILYFormer Royal Marine Lee Fitzgerald has been missing for more than 10 days. Picture: FITZGERALD FAMILY

Lee Fitzgerald’s body was discovered on March 6, 2020, almost one month after he was last seen.

At an inquest held into his death Norfolk Coroner’s Court on August 11, Yvonne Blake, area coroner for Norfolk, read evidence from Mr Fitzgerald’s wife Virginia Fitzgerald, his friend Graham Rumbellow, Suffolk Police, Mr Fitzgerald’s GP and a post-mortem report.

The court heard how Mr Fitzgerald, who lived in Gislingham, had served in the Royal Marines and on retiring began doing security work for a Saudi family, which would often see him travel abroad for weeks at a time.

Virginia Fitzgerald told the court how in the last five years the couple had experienced relationship problems for which they had sought help, but they had subsequently decided to separate.

Mrs Fitzgerald said her husband would often disappear for days, sometimes weeks, at a time following an argument, often staying with friends.

She said her husband was a “larger than life character” who had a “large group of friends all over the country”.

Mr Rumbellow told the court how on January 8 he had received a call from Mr Fitzgerald saying he had been in a car crash and needed picking up and taking home.

On January 9, shortly before 9am, Mr Rumbellow dropped Mr Fitzgerald off in Diss, and said he “appeared very down”.

Mr Rumbellow checked in on Mr Fitzgerald at 1pm but had no reply. He did not see him again and that evening he was reported missing.

The court heard a police report, which said Mr Fitzgerald’s movements were traced on CCTV from Diss to Norwich then Great Yarmouth, where he was last captured walking along the beach.

The court also heard from Mr Fitzgerald’s GP practice and Dr Jude Chapman, who told the court Mr Fitzgerald had gone to the doctor in December 2019 with symptoms of anxiety and depression, for which he was prescribed medication.

He also reported an episode of fainting.

A post-mortem report gave Mr Fitzgerald’s cause of death as unascertained.

Closing the inquest, Ms Blake gave an open conclusion.

■ If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple and Android.


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