A former Royal Marine from Trowbridge died of a heart attack after falling into the Kennet and Avon Canal near Avoncliff, an inquest heard on Tuesday.

John Macfarlane, 65, of Francis Street, was cycling home from the Cross Guns pub at about 10pm on March 22, having been drinking since 3pm.

His body was found floating face down in the canal the following day by a cyclist travelling to work, and was identified by canal boat owner Anthony Sewell, a friend moored nearby.

Pathologist Dr Ian Cook, who conducted the post mortem examination, gave evidence that Mr Macfarlane had an enlargement of his heart and a history of high blood pressure.

He also had a high ethanol count in his blood, 264ml, more than three times the legal driving limit.

Dr Cook said his experience lead him to believe it most likely that Mr Macfarlane died following a heart attack induced by falling into the cold water of the canal.

Cross Guns proprietor David Roberts said that Mr Macfarlane was a regular at the pub, where he went to socialise with friends.

Giving evidence, Mr Roberts said: “He would always travel to the pub on his push bike, and he would leave at about 10pm and have a cigarette. He smoked quite heavily.

“He loved meeting people and speaking to them, he was very chatty and had a huge knowledge of local news.

“He liked to chat outside with people, and it would sometimes take him an hour to drink a pint of cider, his favourite.

“When he left that night he seemed normal, he was very compos mentis.”

Mr Roberts also confirmed that the towpath between Avoncliff and Bradford on Avon is very dark at night, and the only light would have been the moon and the bike light.

In evidence read by the coroner his daughter Sarah Macfarlane said that her father joined the Marines on his 18th birthday and served in Indonesia and Borneo.

She described him as ‘once a Marine, always a Marine’.

He later worked for Bowyers and Pork Farms in Trowbridge, and was made redundant in 2008.

Assistant deputy coroner Ian Singleton concluded that Mr Macfarlane fell into the cold water of the canal, due perhaps to the poor light or the effects of alcohol, and suffered a fatal heart attack.

His family said they were satisfied with the verdict of accidental death.