A popular young man from Appledore drowned in a tragic accident after going to a works Christmas party, an inquest has heard.

Cameron Atkinson batting for Bideford. Picture: ArchantCameron Atkinson batting for Bideford. Picture: Archant

Cameron Atkinson, aged 20, lost his life after attending his works party five days before Christmas last year.

His father Andrew said he was a ‘homely lad who loved to be around his family’ and they went out fishing together.

He said his ‘carefree’ son ‘never drank alcohol - only the odd pint of cider’ - but normally just drank Coke.

Mr Atkinson said Cameron had no stress or problems in his life and really enjoyed his job at a builders’ merchants.

The keen fisherman and cricketer checked on his grandmother before going to the works get together at a local pub in Appledore.

During the party with around 30 people, Cameron had drunk two pints of lager. Later his brother Josh joined him for around five hours and said his brother was in good form ‘laughing and joking and told quite a few one liners’.

In another pub Cameron, who had passed A levels at a local college, drank two more pints and joked to his brother that he should ‘slow down’ as the lunch time party went into the night.

In fact, he drank several pints of water and squash after that and later met up with his dad.

The Exeter inquest heard Cameron drank a few Jack Daniels and Cokes, and some plain Cokes, before he decided to head home - and his father said he would walk with him.

But his dad was briefly chatting to some friends and when he turned around Cameron had left - and he thought he was heading home and he would catch up with him.

He tried calling his mobile phone but it went straight to answerphone.

But Cameron had not returned home and Mr Atkinson went out searching for his son with a torch. A search involving family and friends yielded nothing and police were called at 1.20am.

At first light Mr Atkinson returned to Appledore quay as the tide was out - and spotted his son in the mud 10 yards from the quay wall.

A post mortem concluded he had drowned.

Assistant coroner for Devon Luisa Nicholson recorded an accidental death conclusion.

She told the Exeter hearing that Cameron had ‘consumed more alcohol than he was used to at the Christmas party’.