Warning after man was so drunk on cider he lost legs in bonfire ordeal

Police have issued a warning over cheap alcohol.
Police have issued a warning over cheap alcohol.

A homeless man who fell in a campfire while drinking cheap white cider had to have both legs amputated, a police officer campaigning about alcohol has said.

Pc Claire McNaney, from Durham Constabulary’s Alcohol Harm Reduction Unit, said the 34-year-old has continued drinking despite his horrific injuries in June last year.

What makes the story even more sad is that, despite his life-changing injuries, he is still alcohol dependent, sleeping rough and begging for money to buy super-strength white cider

Pc Claire McNaney

She was talking about the damage caused by super-strength white cider, where a 3-litre bottle costing just £4 can contain as much alcohol as 22 shots of vodka.

The alcohol harm expert said the drink is particularly harmful to some of society’s most vulnerable people because it is so cheap.

She said: “A young homeless man, who was alcohol dependent and had poor mental health, was drinking strong white cider with his friends in a wood.

“The group lit a fire to stay warm and at some point, because he was so inebriated from the cider, he fell into the fire.

“He wasn’t found until the next morning when a dog walker in the woods came across him.

“He had suffered third-degree burns on 70% of his body.

“He was taken into hospital and put into an induced coma while he fought for his life.

“The burns on his body were so bad that he had to have both of his legs amputated.

“He was just 34 at the time.

“What makes the story even more sad is that, despite his life-changing injuries, he is still alcohol dependent, sleeping rough and begging for money to buy super-strength white cider.”

Pc McNaney also reported finding a 13-year-old girl passed out on a grass verge next to a busy road with her clothing around her ankles after she needed to urinate.

The teenager had been drinking the cheap cider.

Excessive drinking was a massive burden on police time, the officer said.

“The problems relating to high-strength ciders are nothing new,” she said.

“It’s a long-term trend and nothing much has changed in the 11 years that I’ve been in this job.

“In my opinion, raising the price of the product through an increase in duty would definitely have an impact.”

She backed calls from Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, to increase duty on high-strength cider.

The campaign has been backed by Joanne Good, whose 16-year-old daughter Megan, from Dudley, North Tyneside, died after having had 1.5l of super-strength white cider at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party three years ago.