Children of Peter Ferguson weren't told of his death or funeral for two months

Daily Echo: Peter Ferguson Peter Ferguson

They just want answers.

The heartbroken son and daughters who weren’t told their father had died and been cremated until two months later have raised a string of concerns about what happened the night he drowned at a Hampshire marina.

A coroner yesterday dramatically adjourned an inquest into grandfather-of-ten Peter Ferguson’s death to ask police to listen to questions raised by his three grown-up children.

Yesterday afternoon Andrew Ferguson, Catherine Richards and Donnalynn Rainey gathered with other family members and friends at Hythe Marina where he was found in the water on May 15 to say the emotional final farewell they angrily feel they were denied.

After his death the 63-yearold’s widow, his third wife Angela Ferguson, didn’t contact the three children from his first marriage to tell them about the tragedy, the inquest heard.

They were also unaware of his subsequent funeral.

They only found out more than eight weeks later on July 13, after a family friend heard “a rumour” Mr Ferguson, of South Baddesley, Lymington , had died.

Catherine said the siblings had been sending him emails and online messages – including pictures of her son Jordan's medal parade after a tour of duty with the Army – as usual, and hadn’t been concerned by the lack of replies because their father often went weeks without responding.

The 38-year-old, who lives in Scotland, told the Daily Echo: “We wouldn’t panic if we hadn’t heard from him for a couple of months because that’s what he did. But right now we could be living our lives oblivious, just not hearing from Dad as normal.”

Donnalynn, 33, who now lives in Montreal, Canada, said she was stunned and horrified when she was told her dad, who used to run the Old School House cafe in Lymington, had died months earlier.

She said: “I was in the park with my friends when I had the call to tell me and I fell on the floor.

“I felt guilty for all those times I’ve been out with my friends laughing and joking and having fun while my dad was dead.

“I was out the night before I found out – what the hell was I doing singing karaoke when my dad had been cremated?”

“I hadn’t (physically) spoken to him since I moved to Canada in January, but I had spoken to him on Facebook and email.

But when he stopped answering messages I thought that wasn’t unusual.

“I wrote on his (Facebook) wall for Father’s Day and got no reply, but thought that was Dad. He had already been cremated by then.”

Donnalynn added she phoned her dad’s wife, Mrs Ferguson, to ask why she hadn’t told his children about his death.

“I was told I didn’t leave a forwarding address. I did speak to him, but he wasn’t the sort of person who sends cards so there was no point in leaving an address,” she said.

Adjourning the inquest Southampton coroner Keith Wiseman said it was “wholly wrong” his widow had not done more to inform his children.

He said the family had now raised several questions about the report into the drowning, which made it impossible for him to hold the inquiry.

Mr Wiseman said: “Whether or not there’s anything relevant beyond that of which I’m aware, I have to take as my starting point that I consider that the children have been disadvantaged by the course of events of the last few weeks and that I’m not prepared to suggest that anything should be rushed through now.

“They probably feel they’ve had a bad enough time of it hitherto over these last few weeks and I’m not about to add to it. I will need to know exactly what issues may or may not be raised at this inquest as being relevant to this inquiry.

“There are many steps that could have been taken since Mr Ferguson’s death that could have avoided where we are today.”

Catherine said: “I’m pleased the coroner has taken us seriously and someone will now look at our concerns.

“The police think he went to the shop to get a bottle of vodka at 9.30pm and fell off his bike and into the water on the way back from the shop.

“But Andrew spoke to him at 10.30pm so he couldn’t have.”

Donnalynn added the TV and laptop inside Mr Ferguson’s boat moored in the marina were also on and there was a drink on the table.

“He would never have left that boat without finishing a drink – that wasn’t Dad. He would’ve locked the boat, because he was conscientious, even when he was drunk.”

After speaking to police the family gathered at Hythe Marina to lay flowers in the water and scatter half of Mr Ferguson’s ashes.

Mrs Ferguson last night declined to comment on the family’s concerns.

She said: “I am grieving. If members of Peter’s family feel things aren’t right they are entitled to their point of view and I don’t wish to be drawn into a
protracted debate.”

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