A HOLIDAYMAKER drowned in a riptide off a famous beach featured in the TV show Inspector Montalbano.

Deborah Claire Hooper, 64, entered the water of Punta Secca Beach, in Sicily, during a sunny off-season afternoon on October 14, 2022.

Her partner Rusty Ashman did not want to swim in the water, which was "a little rough", and decided to stay on the beach.

But as Salisbury-born Miss Hooper ventured roughly 50m from the shore and tried swimming back, Mr Ashman noticed she was "going backwards" and realised something was wrong.

Read more: What happens at an inquest and what can the press report?

Concerns were raised by onlookers who called the emergency services and two Swedish men rushed into the sea in an attempt to drag Miss Hooper to safety.

After around eight minutes, the riptide washed Miss Hooper close enough to shore for the men to grab her but she was unresponsive.

CPR was performed but Miss Hooper was pronounced dead at 3.11pm, four minutes before Ragusa police officers arrived.

Salisbury Journal: Deborah Hooper, 64, was a vibrant and compassionate lady.Deborah Hooper, 64, was a vibrant and compassionate lady. (Image: Octavia Serrano)

Senior coroner David Ridley recorded the cause of Miss Hooper's death as drowning and an accident at Wiltshire and Swindon Coroners' Court on Thursday, March 7.

Mr Ashman told the inquest he had carried out further research into the area, which features on the opening credits of Inspector Montalbano, and discovered the beach is a "known dangerous area".

'Onus on anybody going in the water to check whether it is safe'

When questioned by Mr Ashman on whether he would be making any recommendations, Mr Ridley said he had "no jurisdiction" in that country.

Mr Ridley added: "There is an onus on anybody going in the water to check whether it is safe to swim or not, whether it is Bournemouth beach or here. It is very dangerous unless you see other people in the water."

Mr Ashman mentioned his surprise to discover that the area was "completely devoid of equipment for saving anyone who did come into difficulty".

Salisbury Journal: Wiltshire and Swindon Coroners' Court in SalisburyWiltshire and Swindon Coroners' Court in Salisbury (Image: Newsquest)

Speaking to the Journal outside the court, Mr Ashman said: "There were no safety measures on the beach, no life buoys or boats. Nothing.

"Absolutely no help at all and it was known locally as a place where people have drowned before it and that is shocking."

He recalled watching the "cool, calm and peaceful" sea on Montalbano.

He said: "You get duped into thinking the place is paradise and it was not."

Daughter Octavia Serrano described her mother as "a vibrant and compassionate person, with a sharp sense of humour." 

"We miss her deeply," she said.