The boyfriend of a socialite millionairess has been mysteriously found dead in the swimming pool of her luxury 16th Century castle, it emerged today.
Tragic Steven Penny, 43, died at 4.45am while his partner Margarita Hamilton, 54, entertained guests at the restored Walton Castle in Somerset.
He was found in the underground swimming pool and the guests tried to resuscitate him but he was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived.
Police were called to the scene but his death is not being treated as suspicious and the coroner has been informed.
Former record company boss Margarita – who has previously clashed with her neighbours over her late-night parties – today paid tribute to his ”ebullient personality”.
She said in a statement: ”On Saturday 12 March Steven Penny of Bristol passed away suddenly.
”He was best known for his charitable work and his loving restoration of Walton Castle
”He is survived by two loving children and grandchildren his devoted long-term partner his mother and extended family and friends.
”Known for his ebullient personality love of music and giving and generous heart he will be sadly missed by all who were fortunate enough to have known him.”
Margarita – who also has properties in Zimbabwe and Greece – bought Walton Castle for £250,000 in 1984 with her then husband, city financier Roy Hamilton.
The couple spent £2.5million renovating the property, which was built in 1529 on the site of a 10th Century hill fort mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
They divorced in 1995 and she met Steven, an electrical engineer, 11 years ago.
The four-floor castle is surrounded by eight turrets which have been converted into bedrooms sleeping up to 16 guests.
The entire property – which boasts stunning 360 degree views over six counties – can be rented out for £2,500 per night.
Tragedy struck as Margarita hosted a small gathering with friends last Friday night ahead of a bigger party planned for the Saturday.
Steven had stayed up until the guests went to bed but was found in the water at around 4.45am on Saturday morning after going for a late-night swim in the 15m heated pool.
The frantic guests pulled him from the water and attempted to resuscitate him under the guidance of a 999 operator.
A spokesman for Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) said: ”At 4.47am we got a call reporting a male in cardiac arrest in the swimming pool at Walton Castle.
”The call handler gave resuscitation advice over the phone and people were giving him CPR.
”We sent quite a few resources to the scene and medics took over.
”Unfortunately the crews were unable to save him and he died at the scene. The police were notified and we left the property.”
Avon and Somerset Police confirmed officers had been called, but said they were not investigating any suspicious circumstances in connection with the death.
A force spokesman said: ”We were called in the early hours of Saturday morning to an incident at the property, with reports of a dead man.
”It was referred to the coroner as a sudden death.”
Avon Coroner’s office said an inquest into the death of Mr Penny had been opened and adjourned yesterday, pending further enquiries.
They confirmed the cause of death remained unascertained.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, added: ”It was quite a quiet party. We were woken up at about 5am when the police arrived at the castle.
”We knew it was serious and we guessed that a body had been taken away when we saw a private ambulance turn up.”
Margarita is well-known locally for her lavish parties and has previous clashed with her neighbours over the noise.
The ‘Queen of the Castle’ apologised to the townsfolk in 1999 after calling them ”boring, geriatric and spineless” over complaints about her parties.
In one local interview she said: ”I’m sick and tired of being castigated and denigrated every time I do something different.
”There are people living here with millions in the bank and what do they do?
”I have nothing against old and retired people but they should learn to integrate.”
In another report she stormed: ”Sometimes living here feels like Nazi Germany.”
Pop stars Jamiroquai, Paul Weller and Midge Ure are among the guests who have attended charity bashes at the castle.
The hostess even featured on one episode of television show Neighbour’s From Hell.
Friends of Mr Penny took to Facebook to express their grief and leave tributes, setting up group ‘In Celebration of Steve Penny’.
Family member Rich Penny wrote: ”It is with great sadness that we are arranging a celebration of Steve’s life after his tragic and sudden death on Saturday.
”As you will be aware, due to his full and happy life, Steve had a large circle of friends and we have had many people asking to be kept informed of his funeral arrangements.”
Margarita made her name in the music business in the 1980s and 1990s, through the Swanyard recording studios and record label – which worked with bands such as Pulp, the Pet Shop Boys and Robbie Williams.
The studios closed down in 2001.