A FISHERMAN fell and drowned while in a river he “knew like the back of his hand”, an inquest has heard.

Ian McMullen, of Rookery Lane, Broughton, went missing on April 26 last year, while on trip to the River Oykel, in Scotland, with friends.

A full scale search was launched, with emergency services, coast guard helicopter and members of the public involved.

An inquest into Mr McMullen’s death at Winchester Coroner’s Court on Tuesday heard that on May 1, 2018, his body was discovered by police divers.

Mr McMullen had travelled to Scotland where he had met friend Robert Douglas Miller.

A statement from the Scottish authorities said: “Robert knew him well and said he had been coming to the area for fishing for 60 years. Initially with his father and latterly with Robert.”

Later on the afternoon of April 26, the 75-year-old met with Mr Miller and friend Sir Robert Clarke for lunch and Mr McMullen drank some rum and cola.

At about 4pm Mr McMullen was left alone, but he intended to go fishing in the river.

Sir Robert saw Mr McMullen at about 5.05pm standing in the river and told him to “be careful” before going upstream himself.

He returned to the area later but found “no trace” of Mr McMullen.

Fishery manager Steven Mackenzie, who had known Mr McMullen for 25 years, was alerted at around 6pm, and a search discovered Mr McMullen’s Tweed flat cap. Police were called and at about 8.37pm his rod and reel were found.

Police divers were tasked with searching the river, and on May 1 Mr McMullen’s body was found in “approximately five feet of water”.

The inquest heard that Mr McMullen would have not been seen “from a surface-based search” due to the colour of his clothing and that he was wearing waders but not a lifejacket.

A post-mortem discovered that he had scratches to his face, and the inquest was told that Mr McMullen suffered from poor mobility and balance.

Tests found he had 127 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, but senior coroner Grahame Short said he does not believe Mr McMullen had been intoxicated.

He added: “Mr McMullen lost his balance while he was fishing and fell over . Due to his waders and the depth of the water and his pre-existing physical condition, he could not get up and drowned.”

Mr Short recorded Mr McMullen’s death as an accident.