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Teenage boy died after falling into lake on the way home from party

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Jack Crooke, 17, was spotted in the water by a dog walker hours after falling in. He had been with friends at a house nearby the night previous, reports Stoke-on-Trent Live.

His inquest yesterday heard police investigated the death but found no suspicious circumstances.

But a coroner suggested alcohol was a contributory factor in the death and ruled a narrative conclusion.

Emma Serrano, area coroner for Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, said: “While the evidence leads me to conclude it is more likely than not that Jack’s death was an accident, it was also contributed to by the fact he had some alcohol and the cold weather, meaning he was immersed in cold water.”

The hearing was told Jack had spent Boxing Day last year with his parents and two younger brothers at their home in Blurton, Stoke-on-Trent, before going out  to the party at around 7.30pm.

The youth left three hours later and was “unsteady on his feet”, before he fell into the water in nearby Longton Park.

Detective Sergeant Hilary Boxer, who oversaw the investigation into Jack’s death, said: “We have spoken to everyone that attended the party. Witnesses told us that Jack arrived there at 8.30pm. While he was there, he drank a considerable amount of alcohol. He was described as being drunk.

“A friend offered to walk Jack home. He declined and set off alone on foot. Using CCTV we were able to identify the route Jack took from the property.

“The last CCTV sighting was at 10.26pm when he was seen heading towards the park gate. It’s clear from the footage that he was unsteady on his feet.”

DS Boxer said detectives had considered various theories about what happened to Jack then, including the possibility he may have been the victim of a robbery or assault, but there was no evidence of such an event.

She added that Jack’s phone and coat were never found, but said there was nothing to suggest this was ‘a contributory factor to his death’.

DS Boxer said: “It was clear Jack was intoxicated through alcohol. That affected his co-ordination and cognitive ability.

“We also know his boots didn’t appear to be fastened properly. Both of these things could have contributed to him falling over, probably more than once, and eventually into the lake where he was unable to get out due to his intoxication.

“There is no evidence of any third party involvement or any criminality being involved in this case.”

DS Boxer told the hearing that speculation on social media concerning the circumstances of Jack’s death had led police to take action.

“Officers had to give the participants of that conversation some advice about their conduct in starting rumours,” she said. “These were found to be incorrect and it was very distressing for anyone who was close to Jack to hear about.”

The cause of Jack’s death was recorded as sudden unexplained death in adolescence, caused by immersion in cold water. This was caused by the fall into the lake which, in turn, was contributed to by alcohol intoxication.

In a statement, Jack’s mother Emily Scott described her son as ‘sociable, funny and polite’. The inquest heard he was due to start a course with the Prince’s Trust in January.



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