Teenager drowned after drunken night out

PUBLISHED: 17:12 14 July 2016 | UPDATED: 17:19 14 July 2016

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A coroner has ruled a Portuguese teenager's death by drowning in Exmouth Marina was accidental; he had been drinking and smoking drugs.

A drunken Portuguese teenager accidentally drowned after swimming in Exmouth Marina after a night out with pals, an inquest has heard.

The body of Sergio Emanuel Sousa-Nunes, aged 19, of Morton Road, Exmouth, was spotted in the water by a member of the public on October 17, 2015.

Exeter and Greater Devon Assistant Coroner, Lydia Brown, concluded Mr Sousa-Nunes drowned and recorded a verdict of accidental death. She said he had a high level of alcohol in his blood, plus evidence of cannabis use.

Footprints found in silt and mud in the water of Exmouth Marina show Mr Sousa-Nunes’s last movements, as he swam and walked around moored boats; muddy marks found on a vessel prompted police to believe he climbed to safety before going back into the water.

A further set of marks on a boat show Mr Sousa-Nunes made a second attempt to get out of the water before he drowned.

The inquest heard how Mr Sousa-Nunes had been out on a night out with two friends at Fever and Boutique nightclub, on The Parade, but the teenager was asked to leave by staff because he was drunk.

The court heard Mr Sousa-Nunes and two friends shared two large bottles of vodka, a number of tequila shots and shared eight bottles of beer.

His friend said Mr Sousa-Nunes was ‘used to smoking, but not experienced with drinking.’ He said the teenager would become ‘drunk very quickly’.

A toxicology report found the teenager to be around two-and-a-half times over the legal drink-drive limit, with traces of cannabis in his blood.

Town centre CCTV footage showed kitchen porter Mr Sousa-Nunes, who worked at Prezzos, stumbling around after he left the club; police said he was ‘making big staggering movements, and was ‘not in control of his body’.

Detectives pieced together Mr Sousa-Nunes last hours, scouring images caught on CCTV cameras along the teenager’s final route through Exmouth.

It showed the 19-year-old leaving the nightclub alone, staggering away, ‘clearly very impaired by alcohol and drugs’.

“He’s clearly somebody who’s under the influence,” said police.

Footage showed the teenager cross the road from the club, to a garage opposite, where he sat down. He was picked up on CCTV walking past the night club again; police said they did not know where he had been. Still alone, he disappears out of view from any further CCTV cameras.

Detective Sergeant Simon Davey said: “At that point he’s still staggering; he’s still making these big staggering movements. Now he’s not in control of his body.”

An hour later, in the early hours of the morning, the teenager is seen on CCTV at Exmouth Marina; footage shows someone in the water, swimming. No one else is in sight.

Footprints tracked by police show the teenager lost his shoes in the water. Walking in the mud and slit would be ‘energy sapping’, said DS Davey.

Tracks made by Mr Sousa-Nunes on the jetty continued into the water, showing he climbed back in after initially reaching safety.

Police said it was because he was ‘disorientated’ through alcohol and cannabis.

The inquest was told a witness remembered ‘hearing a big bang, like metal banging’. The Harbour Master said the noise was consistent with someone jumping onto the metal jetty.

DS Davey said: “It leads us to believe he’s gone into the water of his own accord.”

Further footage shows more movement in the water; Mr Sousa-Nunes is seen swimming at the rear of a boat. Moments later there is a ‘noticeable swing’ of a boat.

“That would have been Sergio trying to climb out,” said DS Davey.

He added: “It’s impossible to know why Sergio would have entered the water in the first place.

“Police and I are satisfied there was no third party involved in Sergio’s death.”

“It does appear after leaving the club Sergio wanders around for some time, clearly very intoxicated.

“There’s a period of one hour when we don’t know where Sergio is. His movements are unaccounted for.”

In reaching her conclusion of accidental death by drowning, assistant coroner Lydia Brown said: “It’s not possible to explain what was going on in Sergio’s mind. We know he entered the water and was able to get back out again and went back into the water. We made the assumption he lost his shoes when he was walking in the silty mud of the marina.

“We know there wasn’t any calls or cries for help. Someone would have heard something if he had called for help. Nothing was known until he was found by a member of the public.

“There’s nothing to suggest it wasn’t a drowning death. That’s the only logical explanation. There were no injuries on his body and no evidence by the police of any third party.”

She added: “We know he went wandering for an hour in the middle of the night, we know he had lost his shoes that night, we know from the marks on the boat he was trying to get himself out again.

“Sadly he lost his life in what can only be described as an accident. There’s not a shred of evidence to suggest he wanted to take his own life.”

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