Lake death blamed on drink

PUBLISHED: 13:53 06 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:55 06 May 2010

A man who had been drinking drowned after trying to swim across a lake, an inquest heard this week. Mark Joy, 30, of Jessop Road, Stevenage, died on one of the hottest days of last summer swimming in Fairlands Valley Lake. The court heard that Mr Joy, a m

A man who had been drinking drowned after trying to swim across a lake, an inquest heard this week.

Mark Joy, 30, of Jessop Road, Stevenage, died on one of the hottest days of last summer swimming in Fairlands Valley Lake.

The court heard that Mr Joy, a married man with children, had over three times the drink drive alcohol limit in his body when he plunged into the lake's cold water on June 6.

His cousin Simon Joy told the court: "I was fishing and he came to see me. He'd had a few beers and I had been drinking.

"Mark got it into his head he was going to swim across the lake. He stripped to his underwear and waded in and sat down.

"He then got out and these young girls were egging him on to swim across the lake. He went back in and started swimming, laughing and joking.

"He shouldn't have been in the water because he'd had too much to drink.

"Three quarters of the way across the lake he started to struggle."

Another witness Alex Headington told the inquest: "He'd had a drink. I saw him take his clothes off and told him not to be silly and get out of the water. He was half way out in the lake when I heard him shout for help and he went under."

James Barker, operations director for Stevenage Leisure Ltd which operate the sailing centre at the lake, told the court there are signs around the lake warning people not to swim in the water.

"Swimming in the lake is not a common problem but when staff ask people to stop they are often given verbal abuse," said Mr Barker.

Insp Paul Gregory estimated around 80 per cent of people at the lake that night were under the influence of alcohol.

"Many were under age and the litter bins were full of beer cans. Mr Joy was recovered from the water by the fire service and taken to Lister Hospital."

Paramedics tried desperately to revive Mr Joy and so did staff at the hospital but soon after being taken from the lake he was pronounced dead. Recording s verdict of accidental death, coroner Edward Thomas said: "Alcohol played a big part in this tragedy."

Verdict: Accidental death.


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