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  1. ITV Report

Father of student found in UEA lake thinks cannabis "played a part" in death

A student who was found drowned in a lake had been worried about life after university, an inquest heard.

Nicholas Sadler, 25, disappeared from his shared student house in Norwich in the early hours of February 8 last year.

The film and television student's body was found by police in a lake at the University of East Anglia (UEA) on February 19.

His father, William Sadler, said in a statement that his son had suffered from anxiety since around the age of 18 and was prescribed anti-depressants.

Nick was a film and television student at UEA Credit: Norfolk Police

Mr Sadler had notified the university of this before starting his course and was accessing support but had begun to smoke cannabis, an inquest in King's Lynn heard on Friday.

Norfolk's senior coroner, Jacqueline Lake, recording a narrative conclusion, said: "Mr Sadler was found dead having gone into the UEA lake. He had smoked cannabis prior to his death."

She said he had not left a suicide note, did not mention suicidal thoughts before his death and had previously sought help when he needed it.

However, The Sadler family have previously said that he mentioned his suicidal thoughts to his mentor. They believe his remarks weren't followed up.

In 2019, four students died within 10 months. It prompted the student community to launch a petition calling for the UEA to hire more counsellors and improve its mental health provision. Within a few hours, thousands had signed it.

The University of East Anglia confirmed Nick Sadler's death with a tribute on Twitter Credit: UEA Twitter

Ms Lake said Mr Sadler's housemate, Kieron Woodcock, "noticed him becoming more anxious again about life after university".

She said: "There was evidence he smoked cannabis on the evening before his disappearance and it's not known what effect this would have had on his state of mind."

CCTV footage saw Mr Sadler walking "purposefully" towards the lake at around 4.30am on February 8 in just jeans and a T-shirt, although it was around 4 degrees C and raining, the inquest heard.

His phone, wallet and keys were left in his house.

Police searching the UEA lake for Mr Sadler's body Credit: ITV Anglia

Ms Lake said that "help and support was made available to him by the university" and that Mr Sadler "took full advantage of these services".

Duncan Yuile, Mr Sadler's mentor, said he met him "almost weekly" since his arrival at university in 2015.

He said that the last time he saw him, on February 6, he seemed "more agitated than usual", but he added: "I had no concern for Nick's safety during this session."

He said they discussed planning a work schedule.

Mr Sadler's father said his son began "normalising" the use of cannabis and talked of using drugs on a holiday to Amsterdam.

"He would use artists as a reference of how cannabis expands your mind," he said.

"I do believe that drug use played a part in the death of Nick."