AN inquest into the death of “generous, lovely” Newport dad and South Wales Argus worker Ben Caplan heard the cause of death was drowning with alcohol and drugs a possible contributing factor.

Mr Caplan went missing after celebrating his 30th birthday in Caerleon on December 7 last year.

After almost two months of a poster campaign to find him, his body was recovered from the River Usk in Newport on January 30 this year.

Family members identified him from the tattoos on his arms, the inquest at Gwent Coroners’ Court heard yesterday.

In a statement, Royal Gwent Hospital pathologist Dr Majid Rashid said a post-mortem examination showed Mr Caplan had drunk alcohol prior to his death, and also identified the presence of the antidepressant Sertraline and a low concentration of cocaine.

There was no evidence of trauma to his body, the report found.

Mr Caplan’s widow Danielle gave evidence, telling deputy coroner for Gwent Wendy James that her husband said he would be back home that night before she went to bed.

“I was trying to contact him throughout the night”, she said.

When he had not returned by the following afternoon she contacted police, she said.

On nights out previously Mr Caplan, of Bond Street, had walked home via the same route using a bridge over the Usk, she said.

PC Duggan, based at Bettws police station, said in a statement read to the court: “I was made aware of a body found near Isca Boat Club.”

He went to the river bank, where a SARA lifeboat team recovered Mr Caplan’s body along with a wallet and driving licence.

Deputy coroner for Gwent Wendy James, said: “Ben told [Danielle] he intended to be back home before she went to bed. He was in normal spirits and was looking forward to the future.”

“Where, when and in what circumstances Ben came to be in the river I do not know. There’s no evidence before me to tell me that.”

She said alcohol and drugs taken in the time leading up to his death “may have meant he was less confident on his feet than he would otherwise have been.

“After considering all the evidence to me, I consider the only conclusion I can return is that of ‘found drowned’.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Caplan’s father Bill Caplan said: “It has provided us with some closure.”

At Mr Caplan’s funeral, Mrs Caplan described her husband as a “generous and lovely man”.