A PATHOLOGIST has told the inquest into the death of Stuart Lubbock that sex, causing severe injuries, may have been without his consent.o

However, medical experts are baffled as to how the 31-year-old man died at television entertainer Michael Barrymore's Roydon home in March last year.

On day two of the expected five-day inquiry into the death, three of the four pathologists giving evidence said they could not be sure how the father-of-two died.

Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray heard how factory supervisor Mr Lubbock, from Harlow, had taken a cocktail of drugs, including cocaine, amphetamine and ectasy.

He also had 223mg of alcohol in his system when he was found dead in Mr Barrymore's swimming pool after a drug-fuelled party at the entertainer's bungalow in Beaumont Park Drive.

The original cause of death was stated as immersion, but pathologists said other causes of death such as a drugs overdose or asphyxia could not be ruled out.

Prof Christopher Milroy said pinprick haemorrhages found on Mr Lubbock's neck were a rare occurance in cases of drowning and were often seen in connection with constriction of the neck.

He said it was possible he was held round the neck or a degree of compression was placed on the neck without leaving a mark but he could not be sure of the cause of death.

When pressed by Barrymore's QC Michael Mansfield Prof Milroy said he felt drowning was the most likely cause of death.

Professor Jack Crane also told the inquest at the Epping Civic Offices: "It (the haemorrhages) is not a feature of drowning so I think asphxiation has to be considered as a reasonable possibility.

He added: "Of the distinct possibilities drowning is one of them but I do not rule out asphyxia, some form of cardiac arrest during non-consensual sexual activity or the combination of drugs and alcohol."

The inquest heard how Mr Lubbock had suffered what would have been "excruiatingly painful" injuries to his anus caused by the insertion of a large object.

Professor Crane said: "I do not believe that these injuries were as a result of consensual sexual activity. Something had been inserted forcibly into his anus and caused bruising and lacerations."

Drs Ian Calder and Christopher Milroy agreed the cause of death was "unascertainable" as they could not rule out other possibilities, but Dr Calder said he had suffered heart failure and could have died from hypothermia.

Only Dr Michael Heath offered the cause of death as immersion saying he could find no evidence of asphyxia due to sexual assault or pressure on the neck.

He said: "I could find no evidence that he had been in a scuffle and nothing of restraint or defence. There was no evidence of a third party being involved in his death."

Doctors are being asked to examine more evidence being called for later this week in a bid to try and ascertain the cause of death. It was said that Mr Lubbock had a mixture of cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines as well as 223 micrograms of alcohol in his blood. Such a level would have put him almost three times the legal drink-drive limit.

The court viewed video footage of Mr Lubbock outside the Millennium nightclub in Harlow where he met Mr Barrymore.

The experts agreed his injuries could not have been sustained by that point.

September 11, 2002 11:30