Monday 23 October 2017

A MAN who was heavily drunk when he drowned in the Grand Canal may have been relieving himself when he fell in, an inquest heard.

A MAN who was heavily drunk when he drowned in the Grand Canal may have been relieving himself when he fell in, an inquest heard.

Paul Gunning (53) was found face down in the canal at Portobello Bridge in Dublin 2 by a passerby on the morning of August 16 last year.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that Mr Gunning was fully clothed but his zip was down when he was found.

The inquest heard that he was staying with his friend Peter O'Donovan at a house on the South Circular Road while waiting for his new accommodation to be ready for moving in. Mr O'Donovan said that, in the early afternoon on August 15, he had seen Mr Gunning fall into the canal at Harold's Cross Bridge. "He had gotten himself out quickly so I didn't approach him as he was a good bit down the canal. He was very drunk when he arrived home. He got changed out of his wet clothes and put on some fresh clothes. He left after about 40 minutes bringing his rucksack with him. That was the last time I saw Paul Gunning," he said.

When asked by coroner Dr Brian Farrell if Mr Gunning had a problem with alcohol, Mr O'Donovan said he did not. He was very happy on the day before he died, he said.

Mr Gunning's body was spotted by a jogger at around 7.30am on August 16. Garda Brian Doyle, who attended the scene, said the canal bank where Mr Gunning was found is steep. He was half into the canal and face down, he said.

"The zipper of his trousers were opened maybe giving the impression that he might have been relieving himself," he said.

CCTV footage showed Mr Gunning walking briskly toward the area where he was found at around 12.47am. Nobody else is seen going or coming from the area in the hours afterwards. The area where Mr Gunning went into the water is not covered by CCTV. Detective Sergeant Michael Fitzgerald said there is nothing suspicious about the death.

At post-mortem, there was evidence of drowning. Dr Farrell said that a toxicology screen found that Mr Gunning had a blood alcohol level of 306 milligrams per cent at the time of his death. This was a "very high level" and Mr Gunning would have been "heavily intoxicated", he said.

Dr Farrell said it appeared to be a "tragic accident" before returning a verdict of misadventure citing the steepness of the bank and Mr Gunning's intoxication as risk factors.

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