Student drowned in River Wear after heavy drinking, inquest finds

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A STUDENT drowned after a falling into the River Wear following a night of heavy drinking.

The body of Sope Peters was found by a member of the public five weeks after he disappeared on the evening of October 31.

Sope Peters

Sope Peters

An inquest at the Coroners’ Court in Crook heard the 20-year-old Durham University student had been drinking at a college social event and at his home in Durham City, before going out at 11pm to go clubbing.

Detective Sgt Sergeant Steven Smyth of Durham Police said Mr Peters had been ‘put out’ of Klute nightclub by door staff.

“CCTV footage shows him walking unsteadily towards some steep steps behind the club,” Det Sgt Smyth told the hearing.

“It is almost certain he stumbled down those steps and entered the Wear over the low wall at the bottom of them.

“I have tried to negotiate those steps and it is difficult even when sober.

“The lighting is poor and there is no hand rail.”

A post mortem examination showed the cause of death to be drowning.

Det Sgt Smyth added: “The pathologist found no evidence of injury, and we have found no evidence of third party involvement.

“He had taken no drugs.

“His blood alcohol level was found to be roughly twice the legal limit for driving, but as that was taken five weeks after death I understand it can not be relied upon.”

The hearing was attended by Sope’s uncle, Lanre Peters, on behalf of his parents who live in North Virginia, USA.

“Sope was such a chilled out guy,” said Mr Peters. “We obviously miss him desperately and are still coming to terms with what happened.

“His death is what it is, but anything that can be done to prevent this happening to someone else must be a good thing.

“I and the family would like to thank Durham Police who have been brilliant throughout.”

Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle said the death was clearly an accident.

The coroner added: “I intend to write to the local authority to ask if anything can be done to make those steps easier to negotiate, particularly at night.”

Verdict: accidental death.