Devon party-goer's lake plunge death 'accidental'

Tinhay lake
Image caption Outdoor lights had been strung along the fence to mark the cliff edge

A party-goer plunged to his death in a lake after trying to steady a drunken female guest, an inquest has heard.

David Jameson, 49, from Okehampton, Devon, drowned when a rotten garden fence snapped and he fell into Tinhay trout lake, Lifton, last August.

Sarah Pinn, 37, also fell but was rescued from the disused quarry lake.

Greater Devon Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Mr Jameson was attending a barbecue hosted by fellow motorcycle enthusiast Paul Bridgford to celebrate the second anniversary of Mr Bridgford's wife Karen's recovery from cancer.

'High spirits'

The party was held in Mr Bridgford's garden which backed on to a sheer cliff with a 3ft (1m) fence in between.

Outdoor lights had been strung along the fence to mark the cliff edge.

The inquest in Barnstaple heard Ms Pinn had been drinking cider and vodka during the six-hour garden party. She was so drunk she could not stand up and friends were taking it in turns to look after her.

Ms Pinn told the inquest she had only "vague recollections" of being at the party and no memory of falling into the lake, being rescued or being airlifted to hospital.

Tests showed Mr Jameson was two-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit.

Recording her verdict, Dr Earland said: "He was in high spirits having been drinking at a party and fell on to a rotten post and wire mesh fence bordering the cliff edge as he steadied a drunken friend.

"The momentum carried them over the cliff into the lake 70ft (21m) below where he subsequently drowned."

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