Pub under investigation after death of March man

A MARCH pub is under investigation for serving a heavily intoxicated man who later drowned after a night out in the town.

Coroner William Morris said at Wednesday’s inquest into the death of 39-year-old Simon Peters: “There is a need for licensed premises not to serve individuals who are obviously the worse for drink. I hope something has been learned from this incredibly sad incident.”

Mr Peters, of Yarrow Close, March, had been on a night out with friends on December 16 when he apparently slipped on his way home and fell into the River Nene.

The inquest, held at Wisbech Castle, heard how Mr Peters, Dale Johnson and Jason Bowers had visited several pubs in March before finishing at the Red Lion, which is currently being investigated by Sgt Dave Bax on suspicion of breaching the terms of its alcohol licence.

The trio had been drinking heavily, switching between lager and shots. A post mortem found Mr Peters was more than three-times the drink-drive limit, with 275 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

They visited the Little London, Acre, Red Lion, Griffin, The Square and then returned to the Red Lion.

At around 11pm, Mr Peters said he was going home and Mr Johnson walked him outside before saying goodbye. Mr Peters’ wife, Victoria, reported him missing at about 10am the following morning.

Mr Johnson described his friend as having a “slight stagger” and a witness who spoke to Mr Peters in the pub said he was slurring his speech. He could be seen on CCTV walking into tables and being supported by his friend.

Mr Peters’ body was found by Rookswood Road resident Dennis Feary, who had gone down to the river to check on the boats moored there.

There had been a spate of thefts in the area, so when he saw a black jacket in the water, he thought perhaps it belonged to a thief. But then he spotted a body floating face-down between two of the boats and notified the police.

Spartan Rescue, who retrieved Mr Peters’ body, said the water was extremely cold at two degrees Celsius and when Mr Peters fell in, his arms would have been numb after just three to four minutes. His trainers were also found to be full of silt from the soft river bottom.

Mr Morris gave a verdict of accidental death and said: “We do not know exactly what happened, but it is clear that Simon Peters had had a lot to drink and it may be that he slipped on his way home and fell in the river.”