Navy veteran who died in Chesterfield bookies is laid to rest

Picture: Rachel Atkins.
Picture: Rachel Atkins.
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The funeral of a navy veteran who lay dead overnight in the toilets of a Chesterfield betting shop has taken place.

John Cole, 65, of Loundsley Green, was reported missing on Monday, November 7, and his body was found by a cleaner in the toilets at Betfred on Burlington Street the following morning.

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

Betfred – which is still investigating the tragic incident – said its policy states toilets should be checked before shops are closed.

Mr Cole was laid to rest after a service at St Bartholomew’s Church in Old Whittington this morning.

His coffin was draped in the Saint George’s Cross.

As reported last week, Mr Cole’s brother Brian, from Brampton, said: “Betfred have questions to answer.

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

“Quite frankly, the toilets should have been checked before the shop was shut on Monday night.

“If they had been, he might have been found and taken to hospital for treatment.

“He could still be here today if that had happened – but he’s not.

“If the toilets aren’t being checked before staff go home, it also raises questions about security.

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

“Anybody could be in them overnight.”

Mr Cole’s sister Alison Shirley echoed her brother’s concerns and added: “Family, friends and police were out searching for him for hours on Monday night – but he was in the toilets of Betfred the whole time.

“How could this happen?

“It’s absolutely shocking.”

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

Mr Cole’s niece Zoe Cole said he was ‘more like a dad than an uncle’.

A life-long resident of Chesterfield, popular Mr Cole – who also has a second brother, Barry – spent 15 years in the Royal Navy.

His family described him as a ‘wonderful man who would do anything for anybody’.

A Betfred spokesman said: “First and foremost our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Cole at this very sad time.

“It is our policy that all public areas, including toilets, are thoroughly checked prior to the closing of the shop.

“However, until our investigations have been completed, we cannot comment further.”

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

Picture: Rachel Atkins.

A Derbyshire police spokesman added: “There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.”

Mr Cole died of natural causes.