Church warden killed himself with sex drug overdose

St. Mary's Church, Southampton

St. Mary's Church, Southampton

First published in Southampton Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Politics and business reporter

A CHURCH warden took his own life by taking a “massive” overdose of sex drugs, an inquest heard.

Martin Rowe, 47, was found fully clothed in the bath at his five-bedroom Southampton home by a vicar who went to check on him after he missed a Sunday service.

Paramedics and police arrived to find 20 empty packets of a male impotence drug by his bedside and more than 1,000 of the same pills in his study.

A large quantity of condoms, tubes of lubricant, disposable latex gloves, canes and towels were also found in a spare room, Southampton Coroner’s Court was told.

Friends and colleagues last night paid tribute to the bachelor as a popular man who had been greatly affected by the death of his mother around two years ago.

The inquest heard that Dr Rowe, an academic and private tutor of Pinewood, in Bassett, had a drink problem and had previously told neighbours he wanted to take his own life.

A statement from his GP said he had repeatedly been admitted to hospital for alcohol-related reasons in the months before his death.

Dr Rowe told doctors he was drinking over a litre of vodka daily, the inquest heard. He was told if he kept drinking to excess there was little medics could do to help him.

The Rev Julian Davies said Dr Rowe started to attended church around two years ago following the death of his parents, and became a deputy church warden to St Mary’s Church, never missing a Sunday service.

Mr Davies found Dr Rowe’s body when he went to check on him at home after he failed to attend a service.

He said: “He got quite wellknown to the people at the church. People missed him and they were very sorry about the circumstances of his death. It was very tragic.”

Mr Davies said he had challenged Dr Rowe about his drinking as he became unable to carry out his functions as a deputy church warden, but he said he hadn’t wanted to admit the extent of his problem.

Dr Rowe had been a stalwart of The Old Tauntonians’ Association for around 25 years, as one-time secretary, a longtime executive committee member and as dinner secretary.

Honorary secretary Bob Newell said he had played a key role in organising a centenary annual reunion dinner for the 800-member association at Southampton Guildhall in November 2010, and would be “very sadly missed for all the hard work and effort” he put in.

Association president Ted Colenutt, a former vice-principal at Taunton’s, then a sixth form college, who had taught Dr Rowe, said he had many friends and was a “sincere man”.

“We were all stunned when we heard he died. I think the death of his mother really upset him.”

“He was a private man in many ways and yet in other ways he was very sociable and pulled his weight in everything.”

Neighbour Nick Hannides said Dr Rowe had been a very private but friendly man who “kept himself to himself”.

He said: “He was a complete and utter gentleman, very prim and proper and would always dress smartly in a suit and tie.

“When his mum died he said that he had lost his only friend, and for a while he shut himself off completely.”

Dr Rowe worked as a private tutor for a number of agencies, offering expertise in business studies, economics, English, history, politics and public speaking. He also until recently ran a car hire firm.

Pathologist Sanjay Jogai, who carried out the postmortem, said Dr Rowe had died from a “massive” dose of the erectile dysfunction drug Sildenafil, hundreds of times the normal dose.

He said Dr Rowe would have suffered severe hypertension, collapsed and died.

Deputy coroner Gordon Denson recorded a verdict of suicide.

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