A YOGA fanatic from St Austell drowned in a disused clay pit after attempting to have a 'near-death experience' to achieve a higher level of spirituality, an inquest heard.
Luke Monrose, 27, of The Council Houses, Rescorla, intended to catch hypothermia and be taken to the brink of death in a bid to better himself and prove the existence of an afterlife.
Police divers discovered his body, clad in swimming goggles and a life jacket, at Lantern Pit on Sunday, May 19, almost two days after he told his mother, Susan, that he was meeting friends for a drink.
He had confided in younger brother Daniel, 26, who had agreed to pass a note explaining his actions to their mother if he did not return from the pit by noon on the Saturday.
Cornwall Coroner's Court heard yesterday that Luke had taken to practising for his near-death experience (NDE) attempt in the bath and had spent ten years reading books about aliens living among people on Earth.
An emotional Mrs Monrose said the most important thing was that people did not believe her son had intended to kill himself.
She said: "He knew he was going to do something that endangered his life. But this wasn't suicide and he wasn't suffering with a mental illness. The intent was not to die, but to have a near-death experience, but it went wrong. He made absolutely sure his mum knew where to find him [in the note]. He was brave and silly and he was thinking about me. He wasn't unhappy. It was a very unselfish act because he was trying to prove something to other people."
Luke enjoyed football and snooker at school and had plenty of friends, Mrs Monrose said. But after he left education he became withdrawn, stopped seeing his pals, and took to reading books on meditation and spirituality.
"I told him he should get out more, get a girlfriend and go to the pub and get drunk but he wasn't interested," she said.
A follower of conspiracy theorist David Icke, Luke came to believe that aside from proving life after death, an NDE would allow him to gain psychic powers, see the future and achieve an outer body experience known as astral projection.
Mrs Monroe told the court: "He read books on people that have had near-death experiences and came back with a new sense of purpose. Luke intended to be one of those people and to say 'It's OK, we don't die, we carry on'. That's what he intended to do. He took it to the extreme."
In a statement read out in court, Daniel, his brother, said: "It's my belief that Luke thought he was on this Earth to change the fate of the planet for the better. Luke and I weren't scared of death as we know that our consciousness is separate from our physical bodies."
Coroner Emma Carlyon recorded a narrative verdict that Luke "died as a consequence of a near-death experience which resulted in physical death". The cause of death was said to be drowning.
Paying tribute to her son after the inquest, Mrs Monrose said: "I didn't want anyone thinking he had killed himself on purpose. He was funny, brave and gentle and his spirit will never die."