Tragic swimmer was drunk, inquest told

A MAN who drowned while swimming a river was drunk when he went in the water, an inquest was told.Ipswich man Stewart Toll died on August 4 while he swam in the River Orwell behind the B&Q store in Grafton Way.

A MAN who drowned while swimming a river was drunk when he went in the water, an inquest was told.

Ipswich man Stewart Toll died on August 4 while he swam in the River Orwell behind the B&Q store in Grafton Way.

The inquest into his death was held by Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean, who read from statements which detailed Mr Toll's life and the events leading up to his death.

A statement from his sister Sharon Tomer described Mr Toll, who was 40, as a troubled man.


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"He'd had personal difficulties over the years, he'd had a troubled life for a long period of time."

Another statement, from friend Robert Comerford, said Mr Toll was a quiet man with a history of mental health and alcohol problems.

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The statement from Mr Comerford said he had seen Mr Toll on August 3 and it was clear he had been drinking.

The inquest then heard Mr Toll, of Burrell Road, had visited the home of another friend, Anna Marie Wintle.

When he arrived at the house, Ms Wintle was preparing to take an inflatable dinghy out on the River Orwell, a statement read by Dr Dean said.

The pair and some others then headed for the river and when they arrived Mr Toll had started to take his clothes off before saying he could "swim like a fish" and jumping into the water.

Ms Wintle's statement said Mr Toll had swum well at first but soon seemed to tire and his head began to dip beneath the water.

Despite efforts to help him, Mr Toll disappeared under the water just a few metres from the bank and the emergency services were called.

Police officers who arrived at the scene jumped into the lake to search for Mr Toll and brought his body onto the riverbank.

"He was lifeless and his eyes were wide open," the statement said.

Mr Toll was resuscitated at the river-side and then taken to Ipswich hospital.

However, the next day doctors said there had been no sign of his brain recovering and the decision was made to stop treatment and he died later that evening.

Dr Dean said a post-mortem examination revealed Stewart Toll had 230 micrograms of alcohol in every 100mls of blood - the equivalent of nearly three times the legal drink drive limit.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Dr Dean said: "There are extreme dangers in going in to the water with raised alcohol levels."

He said no significant levels of drugs were found in Mr Toll's body and said:

"The evidence indicates this was a tragic circumstance which illustrates the dangers of going swimming with a high alcohol level."

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