Inquest: ‘Funny and talented’ Northampton student drowned in Amsterdam canal

Northampton General Hospital where yesterday's inquest was held
Northampton General Hospital where yesterday's inquest was held

Mystery surrounds the death of a ‘funny and talented’ Northampton student whose body was found floating in a canal in Amsterdam.

In September 2012, Nicholas Marshall, of Kingsley Gardens, had just started a degree in electrical engineering in the Dutch city of Eindhoven.

He was reported missing by fellow students on September 16 but five days later, police recovered the 23-year-old’s body from the neighbouring city’s waterway where he drowned.

He did not have his passport or wallet on him and a post-mortem could not prove whether he had consumed alcohol.

On Wednesday, county coroner Anne Pember returned an open verdict after a short inquest into his death was held at Northampton General Hospital.

She ruled there was no suggestion of ‘foul play’ though Dutch police had CCTV evidence of another individual using Mr Marshall’s debit card on September 17. In her summing up, the coroner said: “We don’t know what happened between him last being seen and his body being found. From what I have been told there was nothing suspicious or any suggestion of foul play.”

Mr Marshall lived in St Albans for 16 years before moving to Northampton. He was a keen guitarist.

He first travelled to the Netherlands for his studies in August 2012. His family drove to Eindhoven on that day with him, the day after his grandfather’s funeral.

His last contact with his mother Margaret, 59, was on September 12 , when he appeared ‘fine’, the inquest heard.

But university friends had reported Mr Marshall showing signs of depression in the run up to his death.

He was reported missing by the university on Sunday, September 16, but the coroner said it was not known ‘how or why’ he came to be in Amsterdam. His bike was also reported missing and the following day a man was seen on CCTV using his bank card, though Mr Marshall’s wallet and passport were handed into Dutch police.

His mother told the inquest: “We may never know what happened.”

The parents of Nicholas Marshall said news that their son was showing signs of depression came as a shock to the family.

His mother, Margaret, told the inquest: “ When we heard he had gone missing, we thought that was completely out of character. Nick maybe wouldn’t have known to contact a doctor as he had never been depressed before.”

Dad Michael Marshall, 60, of Bedford, said after the hearing that his son was a popular character.

“He was one of the funniest people you can imagine,” he said. “We have no doubt of the fact he was depressed, but it’s just so hard to imagine.”

The family planted a memorial tree in Nicholas’s honour at Highfield Park, St Albans, after his death and a tribute ceremony was held in his honour in Eindhoven.