Gardener, 49, drowned in millionaire pals' swimming pool after he 'caught wife flirting with another man'

A GARDENER drowned in his millionaire pals' swimming pool after he caught his wife flirting with another man, an inquest heard.

Gareth Rees, 49, was house-sitting for a rich friend when his wife accidentally 'pocket dialled' him on her phone and he heard her "sexually suggestive" conversation with her lover.

Mr Rees, who had been threatening to 'take a dip' then threw himself into the outdoor pool of the £1.3 million pad – despite being terrified of water and not being able to swim.

His wife Claire Rees realised her blunder and dashed to the luxury house in Chert, Surrey, where she found him dead in the water.

Mrs Rees told an inquest what Gareth heard "would not have been nice" as she flirted with new boyfriend Glen Ryan during a lunch-date at Wetherspoon’s.

The widow told the inquest: "I feel really bad about it now but my friends and I had joked earlier because Gareth had texted me to say he was going for a dip in the pool.


“He cannot swim, he hated water, he had a phobia – we thought he was joking.

"If the pocket dial had anything to do with his death, that is something I have to live with. I have had to make my peace with it."

She added: "I am not a technology person but I think instead of pressing the send button while texting Gareth I accidentally pressed the dial button.

“I do not know exactly what he was able to hear."

Mrs Rees said she had rushed to console him after realising he must have heard her conversation.

The inquest heard Gareth and Claire were estranged after 11 years of turbulent marriage.

If the pocket dial had anything to do with his death, that is something I have to live with

But just a few weeks after the separation Gareth suspected his wife was romantically involved with somebody else which left him "angry and upset."

In the early hours of the morning of his death, he had Googled the name "Glen Ryan" searching for the new lover on Facebook.

The inquest heard how Gareth Rees had been staying in his marital home in Alma Lane, Farnham, Surrey.

But he had swapped to house-sit the luxurious pad for friends in Churt on August 3, while the owners holidayed in France when he received the pocket call.

Pathologist Dr Robert Chapman confirmed that Gareth had died from drowning and had drunk over the drink drive limit of alcohol at the time of his death.

Paying tribute, Mrs Rees told the hearing, in Woking, Surrey: "Gareth was a lovely person, he was the best step-father to my son.

"We had both drifted and it was my son that said he could not cope with the arguing. That was the nail in the coffin."

Assistant coroner Dr Karen Henderson recorded an open verdict on the drowning after saying she could not be sure the gardener had intended to drown himself.

She added: "It was clear he was upset that she was moving on, he had overheard remarks about him that were not complimentary and had the realisation that his marriage was not going to be recoverable.

"However, I have no evidence that there was an intention to end his life, he had no known history of mental health problems and no note was left."

Outside the inquest, Gareth’s family blasted the verdict as “a disgrace”.

His dad Mel Rees, said: "We were all so happy when they got married, we thought he needed a strong woman, but I never liked her.

"When Gareth died at 3.45pm she didn’t even ring us to tell us what had happened, we had a knock on the door from policemen at 11.30pm that night.

"When she eventually told us what had happened she didn’t even cry. She said she didn’t cry when her own mother died but there was no emotion there. We know she used him."

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