Coroner warns bars not to serve drunk customers after pub crawl river death

A CORONER today warned bars not to serve drunk customers after hearing how a father drowned on his way home from a pub crawl.

Simon Peters was found dead in the Old River Nene, March, in December last year, an inquest at Wisbech Castle heard.

The 39-year-old had been out for a “Christmas drink” with two friends and had drunk several pints of beer as well as shots including vodka and sambuca.

A post mortem revealed 275mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - 80mg is the legal limit for driving.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner William Morris said: “This matter brings to our attention two particular things. One is the obvious danger in drinking a lot and the consequences that can follow from that.

“Secondly, the need for licensed premises not to serve individuals who are obviously the worse for drink.

“I hope something will be learned from this incredibly sad incident.”

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The inquest heard that Mr Peters, of Yarrow Close, March, had visited several pubs in the town centre with Jason Bowers and Dale Johnson on the evening of December 16.

They had drunk in Little London, The Acre, The Griffin and The Square before finishing in The Red Lion.

Mr Johnson said Mr Peters had a “slight stagger” when he left and that, on a scale of one to 10 for drunkeness, the trio were “between seven and eight”.

CCTV from The Red Lion showed Mr Peters to be “heavily intoxicated”. He was seen to be “very unsteady on his feet” and “using chairs to support himself”.

Mr Peters’ wife, Victoria, woke early the next morning to find her husband missing and reported it to the police. His body was found floating in the water at 11am, close to the Royal British Legion Club in West End.

Divers said the freezing temperatures of the River Nene would have meant Mr Peters lost feeling in his arms and fingers within three minutes.

Sgt Dave Bax, licensing officer for Fenland, said The Red Lion was currently under investigation for “knowingly selling alcohol to a person who is drunk” - a breach of licensing laws.

Coroner Morris added: “It’s a very sad matter indeed. We don’t know exactly what happened but it’s clear that Simon Peters had had a lot to drink.

“It seems that, on his way home, he slipped and fell in the river.”