A HELMSLEY man found dead in the town's River Rye had told his wife he was going for an evening's walk but never returned, an inquest at Scarborough was told on Monday.

North Yorkshire East Coroner, Michael Oakley heard that David Buckley, 64, of Vicarage Farm, Helmsley, a part-time tour guide at Castle Howard, had been suffering from depression.

His wife, Patricia said they had been married for 44 years and had moved to Helmsley 18 months ago.

He had threatened to take his life three years previously and was taking antidepressants.

She said they had had problems with the builders of their home, and his depression had been aggravated by the death of her father eight weeks prior to his own death.

Then shortly before his death Mr Buckley had been told he had cancer, though it was not malignant.

Mrs Buckley said her husband had disappeared on January 22 and was not found until February 8.

Earlier in the day and evening they had been playing bowls. She said her husband did drink whisky but was not a heavy drinker. They had just returned from a holiday in the Caribbean.

Mr Oakley said medical evidence showed that Mr Buckley had not drowned in the river but had died from alcohol poisoning. "There was no evidence that he did it to harm himself, " he added.

Mr Buckley's blood alcohol level was high and his heavy drinking bout had been completely out of character, he said.

"He ingested more alcohol than he was used to, " said Mr Oakley. "He was not a heavy drinker."

Witnesses said in statements that they had seen Mr Buckley about the day he disappeared, one saying he had ignored her when she spoke to him.

His body was found by a police search team at in the river at Spring Wood in Duncombe Park. Nearby was an empty bottle of whisky and his jacket.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.