Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Michael Freshwater death: Fatally stabbed man 'went to rob drug dealers'

Michael Freshwater Image copyright Hampshire police
Image caption Michael Freshwater had visited the flat earlier in the day to buy heroin, it was heard

A man was stabbed to death after he stormed into a flat with a sawn-off shotgun to rob three drug dealers, an inquest has heard.

Michael Freshwater, 49, was found dead in the flat in Portswood, Southampton, in April last year.

The three dealers were held over his death but never charged with murder.

The trio, along with three others, have recently been sentenced for their parts in a £676,000 drugs conspiracy uncovered by inquiries into the death.

'Stabbed three times'

The coroner gave a narrative conclusion, stating Mr Freshwater died from a stab wound to the chest.

The inquest in Winchester heard that police believe regular drug user Mr Freshwater entered the property "with the intention to rob" the men as he had already been to the flat in Westridge Road earlier in the day to buy heroin.

A bullet hole was discovered in the ceiling of the bedroom thought to have been fired during a struggle.

Image copyright Police
Image caption Kevin Suika, Tristan Pope and Dantai Thompson were jailed for their part in a major drugs plot

The gun was linked to former plasterer Mr Freshwater of Carnation Road, Southampton, after his DNA was found on the trigger and handle, it was heard.

The men he confronted, Kevin Suika, Tristan Pope and Dantai Thompson, claimed they acted in self-defence.

Murder charges were brought but were thrown out. Police appealed against the ruling but were unsuccessful.

The three men, along with three others, have since been convicted for offences related to drug dealing.

Hampshire Constabulary said it was not looking for anyone else over the death but said it would review the case if new information emerged.

Coroner Grahame Short said: "I can say that it is probable that those three were present and implicated in Michael's death.

"It's conceivable that there was a struggle involving several people with weapons - a gun and a knife.

"During a confrontation the shotgun was discharged and Michael was stabbed three times by one or more assailants. He died at the scene as a result of one of the stab wounds in the struggle."

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