Northern Ireland

Graham Parish death: Victim 'suggested drink races'

Nenagh Circuit Court
Image caption The case is taking place at Nenagh Circuit Court

A British man who died from acute alcohol poisoning in County Tipperary had challenged people to drinking races, a court has heard.

Graham Parish's colleague Simon Turner said Mr Parish was racing pints before he had "a cocktail of mixed spirits".

Mr Parish from Lancashire, was celebrating his 26th birthday on the night he died in a hotel in Thurles.

The court heard the amount of alcohol in his blood was above the average in a study of 175 similar deaths.

Bar manager Gary Wright and barman Aidan Dalton have pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Parish in the Hayes Hotel on 30 June 2008.

It is the first case of its kind under the liquor liability laws in Ireland.

Mr Parish's colleague, Simon Turner, said Mr Parish had started racing pints before he had "a cocktail of mixed spirits" which he alleged was handed over by bar staff.

"It was his suggestion to challenge people to race to drink a half pint of spirits to a half pint of lager," Mr Turner told a jury and Judge Thomas Teehan at Nenagh Circuit Court.

The court heard vodka, gin, Baileys, brandy and possibly a Jagermeister were in the glass, with a till receipt showing eight shots of spirits costing 30 euros were bought at 2240 BST.

Within minutes, Mr Parish had slumped off his bar stool and was carried to a conference room on the first floor of the hotel by four friends - where his dead body was found by a night porter shortly after 0600 BST the following day.

Daniel Watson, an electrician from Snaith near Doncaster, told the court he was drunk on the night and had taken on Mr Parish's challenge to down a pint of Guinness in two or three seconds, but could not manage it.

Pathologist Stephen Finn determined Mr Parish died from acute alcohol intoxication based on the amount of ethanol found in his blood and urine.

Tests showed 375mg of alcohol was in his blood - above the average of a Belfast study of 175 deaths from acute alcohol intoxication which recorded a mean average of 355mg.

"These are very high levels of alcohol and ethanol in blood and urine," Dr Finn added.