Friends of promising footballer who died in Amsterdam witnessed divers pulling his body from canal on night out, inquest hears

Friends of a promising young footballer who drowned while on a trip to Amsterdam witnessed divers retrieving his body from a canal as part of a rescue attempt, an inquest heard.

By David Allison
Tuesday, 12 March, 2019, 13:05
Daniel Sirrell died while on holiday in Amsterdam.

Daniel Sirrell, 21, was on holiday with five of his pals in the Dutch city for a one-night stay in May last year.

After a day out which included having a meal, two of the six friends went to a cash point in the city and Daniel, who lived in Peterlee after his family moved to the area from South Shields when he was younger, decided to go and find them.

A fund-raising football match took place at Dyke House School, Hartlepool, in aid of the Daniel Sirrell fund.

When the pair returned saying they hadn’t seen him, the group set off to locate their friend.

After hearing sirens from a nearby canal, they rushed to the scene to find Daniel being pulled from the water.

Sadly, he was pronounced dead at a hospital in the city hours later.

No witnesses have come forward to say they saw him fall or pushed into the water.

An inquest into Daniel’s death, at Crook Civic Centre, heard from Daniel’s friend Daniel Mason.

Mr Mason told the hearing that at about midnight on Saturday, May 19, Daniel, who played football for Harton and Westoe FC in South Tyneside, became separated from friends.

“Two of the lads went to a cashpoint and Daniel wanted to go and find them,” said Mr Mason.

“The lads came back without Daniel and obviously we asked ‘have you seen him?’

“They hadn’t so we went to look for him.

“We heard sirens, ambulances and police and when we walked down we got told someone was in the river.

“There were divers in the river trying to get someone out.

“Obviously when they did bring a person out we could see it was Daniel.”

When asked by County Durham assistant coroner Tanyka Rawden if he thought Daniel was drunk at any point before he went missing, Mr Mason replied “no”.

Messages from a German tourist to Daniel’s girlfriend Samantha were also read out at the hearing.

They read: “My best friend and two other friends were there that night.

“They heard someone splashing into the water.

“Your friend was holding onto a boat in the water.

“My friend then jumped into the water and your friend let go of the boat and paddled into the middle.”

The texts also added that onlookers were seen taking videos of the incident.

They read: “The divers brought him out of the water before our eyes and tried to revive him.

“His friends near us wept.

“He was under the water for over 10 minutes.

“For us it was a terrible trip which will never be forgotten.”

A toxicology report read in court found that Daniel had 70 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, meaning he was below the UK drink-drive limit of 80 milligrams.

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He also had traces of MDMA, amphetamine and cannabis in his system, but none of them were at the level from which someone would be expected to die.

A post-mortem examination concluded that Daniel had drowned.

Recording a narrative conclusion in the case, Ms Rawden told the hearing that there was no evidence there had been a falling out between Daniel and his friends on the night he died or that he was urinating into the canal before he ended up in the water.

She said: “There is no evidence there was an argument between Daniel and his friends or that Daniel was being annoying.

“There is no evidence that Daniel was urinating in the canal or that he was heavily under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances.

“Similarly, there is no evidence as to how he came to be in the canal.

“This is not a situation where Daniel has fallen out with his friends. I don’t find that.

“Yes he had alcohol and illicit substances in his system, but not at the level I would expect to influence his behaviour.”

Tributes paid to Daniel

Daniel Sirrell was described as a “lovely lad” who could have gone on to have a career in professional football.

An inquest into the former East Durham College student’s death heard tributes from his mum Karen and aunt Stephanie Beard.

“He was just a lovely lad,” said Karen.

“He was amazing.

“He was just starting to get tattoos, which I wasn’t happy about.

“But he loved his football and he loved his friends too.”

Stephanie added: “He was a cheeky chappy and I loved the banter with him.

“He hadn’t been that good at football but I went out with him on Christmas Day one year and I couldn’t believe the change in him.

“I was so shocked.”

Stephanie added that Daniel had told her that scouts from Scottish football club Dundee United had been watching him.

“I told everyone but he said it was supposed to be a secret,” said Stephanie.

“I was so proud of him, because he was never full of himself.”

Karen also paid tribute to those who have supported the family since Daniel died.

A charity football match was played in June last year at Dyke House School in Hartlepool to help raise cash so that Daniel’s family could bring his body home from the Netherlands.

The Black Bull in Old Shotton, Peterlee, has created the Sirrell Snug at the venue in tribute to Daniel, who was a regular there.

“Everyone has been excellent including those at the the Black Bull pub,” said Karen.

“We can’t thank people enough.”