YEARS of alcohol abuse contributed to the death of Merseyside drinks magnate John Halewood, an inquest revealed.
The 64-year-old businessman, nicknamed "Mr Lambrini" after the iconic sparkling wine he launched, was found dead in the swimming pool area of his Cheshire mansion last October.
Cheshire coroner’s court was told that the entrepreneur – who left with a vast £175m wealth accumulated from his self-named global drinks empire – had heart problems that were made worse by his excessive drinking habits.
He had been warned by a GP just a year before his death that his alcohol intake was "damaging his health".
The court heard evidence from Judy Halewood, his partner of 17 years, that Mr Halewood would down a bottle of wine a day "on average" and "sometimes" binge drink.
She told how she discovered his body at their home near Tarporley on Saturday, October 15, after returning from Southport.
Ms Halewood, who changed her surname to take Mr Halewood’s name, told the inquest: "I went into the house with (our son) and I looked for John and I couldn’t find him anywhere. I looked all over the house, like the bedroom, anywhere he might have been.
"Then I went to the swimming pool where he used to swim and use the gym and things, that’s where I found him."
Mr Halewood was found with three times the drink-drive limit of alcohol in his blood having been on an afternoon drinking session the day before his body was discovered.
Andrew Smallman, managing director at Huyton-based Halewood, said he was contacted by Mr Halewood the previous afternoon who told him that he needed to be driven home because he had drank too much.