UK

Komba Kpakiwa and Josephine Newahun Foday: Police name couple who drowned in country house hotel pool

  • Komba Kpakiwa, from Kent, and Josephine Newahun Foday, from London
  • Pair died at Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield Heath, Essex
  • Miss Foday's grandmother confirms they were in a relationship today
  • Described second year nursing student as 'loving granddaughter'
  • Fellow guests thought police arrival was part of murder mystery weekend
  • One said: 'We just thought hotel had gone to a lot of expense'

By John Stevens, Amanda Williams and Steve Robson

PUBLISHED: 08:39 EST, 30 April 2013 | UPDATED: 14:33 EST, 30 April 2013

A married father-of-two was found drowned in a swimming pool alongside his girlfriend at a luxury hotel where they had been celebrating her 22nd birthday.

Komba Kpakiwa, 31, and nursing student Josephine Newahun Foday were found floating face down in the water at the Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield, Essex on Saturday evening.

Today, Miss Foday's grandmother Theresa Farma confirmed that the pair were in a relationship and that Mr Kpakiwa, from Erith in Kent, had taken her to the hotel as a surprise.

Josephine Newahun Foday, left, and Komba Kpakiwa, right, were found drowned at the Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield, Essex

Mrs Farma, 61, paid tribute to her 'loving granddaughter' and told of how she had been excited to go away to the luxury hotel.

Mrs Theresa, speaking at the home they had shared in Plumstead, south London, said: 'She went there to celebrate her birthday, she was looking forward to going. Komba was her boyfriend, they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

'She called me on Friday to say that she had arrived at the hotel. They were looking forward to spending time at the hotel. They were supposed to come back on Sunday but instead the police came.

'She told me that her boyfriend was going to take her to celebrate her birthday. She was excited to go.

'Everyone is upset, distraught. I can't believe she has gone.'

Mrs Farma said Miss Foday, a second year nursing student at Canterbury University, was a loving young woman who wanted to become a nurse so she could take care of other people.

She said: 'She was a nice lady, she was very kind, there were never any problems with Josephine. She was lovely.

'She was enjoying her studies and very dedicated. She was quite quiet, but she was enjoying university life.

'She was so caring, particularly with children, and was friendly with everyone.'

A picture posted on Twitter by a hotel guest showed the swimming pool area cordoned off by police

A picture posted on Twitter by a hotel guest showed the swimming pool area cordoned off by police

Mr Kpakiwa had been taking his girlfriend Josephine Foday on a surprise weekend away for her 22nd birthday

Mr Kpakiwa had been taking his girlfriend Josephine Foday on a surprise weekend away for her 22nd birthday

She said Josephine had met Komba, from Erith, in Kent, at the local Co-Op supermarket at the top of her road where he worked as a team manager.

The couple started going out in February, and Mrs Farma said she had met Kombo, a father of two, a few times.

She said: 'He was studying law, he was nearly finished. He seemed like a nice boy, they were very happy together.'

Originally from Sierra Leone, Josephine was left orphaned when both her parents disappeared, believed to be killed, in the country's civil war.

Josephine Newahun Foday and her grandmother Theresa Farma who described her as a 'loving granddaughter'dead in the swimming pool of Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield Heath, Essex

Josephine Newahun Foday and her grandmother Theresa Farma who described her as a 'loving granddaughter'

She fled with her grandmother in 2001 and the pair moved to the UK in search of a 'better life'.

Mrs Farma said: 'We don't know where her parents are, we think they are dead. I grabbed the child and left.

'I am so sad, now my granddaughter has been taken away too.'

Abdul Conteh, a close family friend, said eye witnesses had reported seeing the couple floating next to each other on the top of the pool, but they thought the pair were just being a doting couple.

But they raised the alarm a few minutes later when they noticed that Komba's face was had sunk below the water.

He said: 'According to an eye witness, he saw the couple in the pool, he went to the sauna and eight minutes later he he came out and saw Komba's face in the pool and and Josephine was lying on his back going down the water.

'He thought they were mucking around, a couples thing, he didn't take any notice of them.

'But then he came back again and he saw the two of them going down down the water and saw the man's face was underneath the water, so he raised the alarm.'

Mr Conteh added: 'It is so sad, this family has been struck by tragedy three times. They have had so much to cope with.

'Josephine was such a nice young woman, the type of woman you would want as your own daughter. She was very loving and never in any trouble.

'She didn't smoke, she didn't drink, she was dedicated to her studies so that she could help other people.'

The hotel is situated in more than 100 acres of woodland

The hotel is situated in more than 100 acres of woodland

A policeman stands guard at the Down Hall Country House Hotel in Essex, where the couple were discovered dead in the swimming pool on Saturday night

A policeman stands guard at the Down Hall Country House Hotel in Essex, where the couple were discovered dead in the swimming pool on Saturday night

Saz Aziz, a supervisor at the Co-Op where Komba worked, said Komba's wife called to break the news of his death.

He said: 'He worked ten years in the company. I received a phone call on Sunday from his wife saying he is not here anymore, he had died.

'I think he had two children, a seven year-old boy and a four year-old girl.

'We are all very saddened by his death.'

Eleanor McGann, deputy coroner for Essex, opened and adjourned an inquest at New Bridge House in Chelmsford into the deaths this afternoon.

The brief hearing heard that the pair were found floating face down at about 7.30pm in the water. Efforts to save them failed.

Witnesses, including hotel guests, had seen them alive in swimming gear 15 minutes earlier.

Essex Police said that a provisional post-mortem examination found that their deaths were consistent with drowning and are not being treated as suspicious.

The hotel, on the Hertfordshire border, is a popular wedding venue. Jade Goody tied the knot there in 2009

The hotel, on the Hertfordshire border, is a popular wedding venue. Jade Goody tied the knot there in 2009

Chris Falcus, manager of Down Hall Hotel, said: 'We wish to reiterate our condolences to the friends and families of the lady and gentleman concerned.

'Both myself and the team at the hotel are deeply upset by what has happened.

'The results of the post-mortem examination have concluded that the deaths of the two people were consistent with drowning, which puts an end to inappropriate speculation about our facilities.'

Officers are investigating the possibility that they died after one swimmer ran into trouble and the other one tried to rescue them.

Detectives are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths, but have described them as ‘very unusual’.

They have ordered toxicology tests to see if the couple had been drinking or taking drugs.

The couple, both in swimsuits, were pulled from the pool by hotel staff on Saturday night.

Emergency services were called to the hotel but they were both pronounced dead at the scene.

A police spokesman said: ‘Detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances leading up to their deaths.

‘But they are treating them as non-suspicious.’

Jade Goody and Jack Tweed on their wedding day at the hotel in 2009

Jade Goody and Jack Tweed on their wedding day at the hotel in 2009

Guests at the luxury hotel earlier told how they thought investigating police were part of a murder mystery party.

The hotel regularly hosts murder mystery weekends and some guests reportedly believed that the arrival of police was part of the package.

Jo Carter, 49, and Frankie Heritage, 56, checked in for their first ever murder mystery and believed the whole crime scene had been staged.

Miss Carter, a personal assistant from Brentwood, Essex, said: 'We just thought it was all part of the build-up.

'We have never done a murder mystery before so we just thought they’d gone to a lot of expense.

'It all just seemed to be part of the weekend with a policemen and a van at the gate.

'It was only when we spoke to him (the police officer) and he explained that it would be much too expensive to stage with real police cars that we realised.'

The couple say that guests expecting to attend last weekend’s cancelled event have been offered a free murder mystery at the hotel at some point in the future.

The ten-metre pool was open to hotel guests but was unsupervised. Another guest said she had used the pool just 30 minutes before the bodies were discovered.

Essex Police interviewed guests from the two wedding parties on Saturday.

Down Hall Hotel is a popular wedding venue. It was used by Big Brother star Jade Goody when she married Jack Tweed.

The estate dates back to 1322. The house itself is a 16th Century Italianate mansion where a silk mill owner and a Victorian member of Parliament once lived.

It was used as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers in the First World War and was turned into a hotel in the 1980s.

By Staff 04/30/2013 07:33:00