Coroner: Football fan Colin Pine’s death was tragic accident

Police officers searching in Albany Park, Washington on Christmas Eve.

Police officers searching in Albany Park, Washington on Christmas Eve.

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A FOOTBALL fan whose body was pulled out of the River Wear almost a month after he failed to return home from watching a game died as a result of an accident, a coroner has ruled.

Colin Pine, 55, died as result of cold-water immersion rather than drowning after he is thought to have either slipped or fallen into the river at Fatfield, an inquest heard.

Colin Pine

Colin Pine

A large-scale search was launched to find general labourer Mr Pine, who last spoke to his wife Pauline on the phone at 5.55pm on December 21

His badly decomposed body was found by a young boy 27 days later, on the mud bank near Claxheugh Rock in South Hylton at 11.03am on January 17.

His clothing matched what he was seen to be wearing when he left his home in Ennerdale, Albany, in Washington at 1pm on December 21. Mrs Pine reported him missing the following day.

The body was formally identified as Mr Pine after DNA samples were sent off to the forensic science service.

There is no evidence that Mr Pine intended to take his own life

Sunderland Coroner Derek Winter

The post-mortem examinationshowed Newcastle-born Mr Pine’s lungs had collapsed and that he had “significant levels of alcohol”.

Sunderland Coroner Derek Winter said the circumstances of why or how Mr Pine entered the River Wear may never be known.

“The significant amount of alcohol found in blood and urine is likely to be a contributing factor,” Mr Winter said.

“Police inquiries confirmed there was no third-party involvement or any suspicious circumstances.”

Mr Winter said police inquiries had not found any suicidal tendencies on the part of Mr Pine.

“There is no evidence that Mr Pine intended to take his own life,” he added.

“The police report indicates Mr Pine had been in the area of Fatfield and he may have accidentally slipped or fallen into the River Wear.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, Mr Winter said: “On the balance of probabilities, it is more likely than not that Mr Pine has died as a consequence of an accident.”