Oxford

Witney tennis coach drowned after seizure in bath

Oxford Coroner's Court Image copyright Google
Image caption The inquest was held at Oxford Coroner's Court

A tennis coach drowned in a bath after suffering a seizure connected to a brain condition he was diagnosed with as a baby, an inquest heard.

Max Mercer Hilleard, 25, from Witney, had surgery for hydrocephalus - fluid on the brain - as a child but had not had a medical check on it since 2012.

Oxford Coroner's Court heard his condition could have reached a "tipping point" when he died on 15 August 2019.

Mr Mercer Hilleard regularly performed on Oxfordshire's open mic circuit.

He had last been assessed for the brain condition in February 2012, the inquest was told, and it was decided he would be referred again if he suffered any problems.

His mother, Kate Mercer, said he had been "fine" but tired on the evening on his death.

Mr Mercer Hilleard later took a bath but Ms Mercer told the hearing it had taken her son a "really long time" to respond as she spoke to him behind a closed bathroom door.

Mr Mercer Hilleard's parents returned home from a barbecue hours later to find their son had still not left the bathroom.

On unlocking the door themselves, they found him face down in the bath.

Assistant coroner for Oxfordshire Sonia Hayes said "on the balance of probabilities" Mr Mercer Hilleard had a seizure in the bath as a result of hydrocephalus and drowned.

Recording a narrative verdict, she said his parents could not have "anticipated or understood" the unusual circumstances of his death before it happened.

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