Devizes man threw himself in canal after wine binge
8:30am Saturday 17th August 2013 in Latest News
Devizes window cleaner Gary Smith drowned in the Kennet and Avon Canal after he jumped in at the end of a long drinking bout with a former girlfriend, an inquest heard yesterday.
The inquest in Salisbury heard that Mr Smith, 46, who lived with his parents in Nursteed Road, Devizes, was seen to stand astride the gates of Lock 40 on the Caen Hill flight of locks before falling forward into the water. Although emergency services were on the scene very quickly, and Mr Smith was airlifted to Great Western Hospital in Swindon, he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Wiltshire coroner David Ridley read from a statement by Mr Smith’s long-term friend and former girlfriend, Krysia Jureczko, of Mayenne Place, that she received calls from Mr Smith on March 30 last year, asking if they could meet up.
She agreed to meet him on the towpath at Caen Hill. Ms Jureczko said that when Mr Smith turned up he had been drinking.
He went to the Spar shop in nearby Bath Road and returned with three bottles of wine. Shortly after 6pm, Mr Smith returned to the shop for more drink.
As it grew darker, Ms Jureczko said she had to go home and Mr Smith asked to go with her. When she refused, he told her: “I might as well kill myself, then.” Ms Jureczko, having experience of Mr Smith’s threats of self-harm before, said he could do what he liked and walked off.
She went back to make sure he was all right. She saw him standing on top of the lock gates, his arms wide in a pose similar to that of Leonardo di Caprio in the famous scene from the film Titanic, and then topple into the water.
Ms Jureczko immediately phoned 999 but he could not be saved.
Referring to a post mortem report, Mr Ridley said he was satisfied that Mr Smith drowned. The report said Mr Smith had enough alcohol in his body to be four times over the legal limit.
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