The body of a Cardiff man who was described as “a visionary” in the city’s music scene was found in a river by a dog walker earlier this year, an inquest heard today.
Peter Loughlin, a former club owner who achieved fame at the helm of The Hippo Club, was found dead in the River Taff by South Wales Police on May 6.
It sparked a police investigation after he was found in the section of river by Pontcanna fields, close to Sophia Gardens cricket ground.
But his postmortem showed he had no “obvious” injuries and it remains a mystery how he died.
Assistant coroner Thomas Atherton told Cardiff Coroner’s Court Mr Loughlin had suffered with alcohol problems for “some years”.
Death not caused by overdose
But the postmortem conducted on his body showed low levels of alcohol in his system, indicating he had drank in the past 48 hours, but the death was not due to an overdose.
Giving his conclusion, the coroner said: “There are two possibilities: first, he deliberately drowned himself, but equally possible is that he was disorientated through alcohol and fell down the steep bank and into the river and drowned.”
He said there was no evidence in Mr Loughlin’s background that suggests he was likely to commit suicide, and that it was equally likely he could have fallen and tripped into the river.
The coroner said that argument was strengthened due to the fact he was found with his trousers around his ankles, indicating he may have been urinating before he possibly fell.
He returned an open conclusion.
‘Alcohol controlled his life’
In a statement read to the court and written by Mr Loughlin’s sister-in-law Sian, it stated “alcohol controlled his life”, but he was in denial about his problems.
A report of his medical history revealed he had confessed in August 2015 to drinking around 60 units of alcohol per week.
The inquest heard Mr Loughlin was seen at the nearby Sport Wales National Centre, next to Bute Park, on the evening of May 5, when he went to use their toilets.
His phone was later found by a member of the public
He was not then seen until his body was found by a dog walker in the river on the afternoon of May 6.
Speaking outside the coroner’s court, his nephew, Daniel Loughlin, who was representing the family at the court, said: “He leaves behind a massive hole. He was big into my brothers and sisters and I, and a big family man. He loved us very much.”
Speaking about the open conclusion, he said: “I think it’s nice to put a full stop at the end of it even though it’s not definitive.
‘Peter will live on in our memories’
“Peter will live on in our memories.”
Hameed Mohamed, who was Peter’s business partner, said: “He was a visionary in the club scene and a real landmark in Cardiff.
“At the Hippo Club, it was always about having a good time and the welcoming vibes Peter gave. He was always on the floor and knew how to entertain people. He leaves a very big legacy behind.”
He may have found fame at the helm of the Mars Bar and The Venue clubs, but he was most well known for founding the Hippo Club on Penarth Road, which was described as “the centre of the universe for dance music” during the 90s.
Paying tribute last month, former Cardiff resident Phil Bedford, who worked with Peter at the Hippo Club, said: “Peter, you’re a Cardiff legend, you will be missed by more people than you ever realised.
“You touched so many people’s hearts, and your legend will live on for many years to come.
“I miss you man, see you on the other side.”