MYSTERY still surrounds the death of a popular Teignmouth trader whose body was recovered from the town docks just eight days before Christmas.

An inquest into the death of carpet shop owner Steven Hall, of Larch Close, recorded an open verdict, with coroner Ian Arrow saying no one would ever know whether Mr Hall entered the water deliberately or simply fell in.

The hearing in Torquay was told the businessman was last seen alive early on the morning of December 17 at a local newsagents where he appeared subdued and less tidy than normal.

A search for him was launched just hours later and by early afternoon his body was found floating in the water at New Quay.

No conclusive cause of death could be given after a post-mortem examination, although it was suggested he may have drowned or suffered a sudden cardiac event.

Mr Arrow, in his summing up, said there was no indication that Mr Hall intended to take his life.

For this reason he recorded an ‘open’ conclusion.