Corby man disappeared after argument with Coronation Street star, inquest told

Justin mathis
Justin mathis

A former Corby man who ran a pub in North Wales went missing shortly after having words with Coronation Street actor Bruce Jones, an inquest was told.

The body of Justin Mathis, 29, has never been recovered since the night of the argument in a Conwy pub where he had been drinking with colleagues.

Coronation Street: Bruce Jones as Les Battersby

Coronation Street: Bruce Jones as Les Battersby

Mr Mathis, who ran the Bridge Hotel, Conwy, with his partner Gareth Williams, was reported missing on February 4, 2011, and a massive sea and air search operation was carried out. A few days later one of his boots was found on the opposite side of the Conwy estuary at Deganwy.

At an inquest in Ruthin John Gittins, the coroner for North Wales East and Central, said he had been authorised by the Chief Coroner, Judge Peter Thornton, to hold an inquest even though no body had been found.

Gareth Williams told the inquest that after a busy Christmas and New Year period he, Justin and another colleague had gone out for a meal and a visit to every pub in Conwy.

By the time they reached the George and Dragon the effect of the drink hit them and Justin became argumentative.

He was angry that the George and Dragon was holding quiz nights on the same night as their’s in the Bridge and so demanded to see licensee Graham Roberts.

As they argued in a corridor Bruce Jones, who played Les Battersby in the long-running soap, walked past and Justin called him a “knobhead” and “pillock”.

In a statement read at the hearing Mr Jones said he did not respond but went into the bar, commenting “It’s OK corral at the quiznight”.

He said that Justin staggered around the bar, shouting at customers and Mr Jones said he intervened when Justin swung a punch at an elderly local man.

Gareth Williams tried to usher his partner outside and then went back to the Bridge. It wasn’t until the following morning that he realised that Justin had not returned home.

A local resident, Anthony Carr, told police he saw a man sitting or crouching close to the sea wall and CCTV footage showed him entering the quay area shortly before midnight but not leaving.

Recording an open conclusion, the coroner said he was entirely satisfied that Justin had not deliberately taken his own life and though he should not speculate it seemed likely that he had fallen into the water.

He said he had to record the cause of death as “unascertained” and told Mr Williams and Justin’s sister Vicky McIntyre, of Uist Walk, Corby: “I can give you legal closure but I can’t give you emotional closure.”

After the hearing Mr Williams’ father Wyn Williams paid tribute to the police and other emergency services for their efforts during the search, especially in such bad weather.