Inquest Into Mystery Death In India

An inquest's heard how a 20-year-old man from Hampshire died suddenly after contracting a bowel infection while travelling with friends in India.

Samuel Banks, of Steep, near Petersfield, was taken by friends to hospital in New Delhi after he started to vomit a ''dark, granular'' liquid, the inquest at Portsmouth heard.

Medical treatment was unable to save Mr Banks, an aspiring film-maker, and he died at the Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in the Indian capital on June 25 last year.

David Horsley, coroner for Portsmouth and South East Hampshire, said:

''He had been on an extended holiday in India with some friends for about three months.

''They had been touring around when he had developed some kind of stomach upset and he had become seriously ill and his friends had to get him to hospital and he sadly died in hospital.''

Barbara Borek, a pathologist who carried out a post-mortem examination on Mr Banks' embalmed body, said that he died of a perforated bowel probably caused by an infection.

But she said that tests had been unable to ascertain which infection he had suffered from.

Dr Borek said: ''It does remain a mystery.''

Mr Horsley said there had been reports that Mr Banks had swum in the highly polluted River Ganges before his death.

But Mr Banks' mother Louise, who attended the hearing with her husband Graham and their other son and two daughters, said that his friends had denied this.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, Mr Horsley said to the parents:

''I am satisfied his death is from natural causes.

''I am so awfully, awfully sorry. It's a terrible thing to happen, it is a nightmare situation for a young man to go away with friends to India and something like this to happen.''

Mr Banks, who is head of English at the prestigious Bedales School in Steep, said after his son's death:

''Sam was a boy of strong convictions tempered by a great sense of humour.

''His love of, and involvement in, drama, music and cricket shaped his life.

''A few days before he died he heard that he had been accepted for the film-making degree course he longed to take.

''We and his brother and two sisters are missing him desperately.''

Keith Budge, headmaster of Bedales which Samuel Banks also attended, said:

''Sam was an amazing young man - clever, creative and passionate in his beliefs.''