Inquest to be held for sailor missing from Poole Harbour

Bournemouth Echo: HUNT: A search is carried out for Andrew Paul O’Neill HUNT: A search is carried out for Andrew Paul O’Neill

AN INQUEST will be held next month for a fisherman who went missing when his dinghy capsized in Poole Harbour.

Andrew Paul O’Neill, 33, was in a seven foot tender with two other men went it went under in the harbour around 10.15am on Sunday December 23 last year.

At the time, rescuers found one man clinging to a buoy and the second was pulled from the sea by the helicopter. But rescuers could not find Andrew despite a wide-scale search by Portland Coastguard, the search and rescue helicopter, the Poole Lifeboat and volunteers on private boats.

Now, Dorset’s Senior Coroner Sheriff Payne has confirmed that he will hold an inquest into the fisherman’s death next month.

The inquest is going ahead despite the fact that the body has never been found.

Andrew’s mum Maureen Rumbell, who now lives in Northern Ireland, described her son as a lovely man who had a ‘heart of gold’.

She added: “He was forever digging for bait, it didn’t matter what the weather was doing he’d be out there digging for worms.”

The two other men rescued at the scene were treated for severe hyperthermia.

It was thought that none of the men were wearing lifejackets.

At the time of the rescue helmsman of Poole’s inshore lifeboat, Gavin McGuinness, said: “In the area where we found the dinghy, the water was about a metre and a half deep.

“When we arrived, the helicopter was already lifting the two out of the water.

“When it began to fly back to land, they called to say they’d just been told a third person was still in the water.

“He had gone sub-surface while the other two were clinging on to the wreckage.”

Lifeboats completed a full area search all day while a second helicopter used infra-red to try and find O’Neill.

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