Shropshire

Man drowned in River Severn at Shrewsbury after police pursuit

Ashley Atkins Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ashley Atkins's mother said she missed him and that his boys are "devastated"

The death of a man who tried to swim across the River Severn was accidental, an inquest has recorded.

Ashley Atkins, 33, from Tipton, had been the driver of a car that was pursued by an unmarked police car through Shrewsbury in April.

The car went into the water near the Frankwell car park and Mr Atkins and another man attempted to get to the other side, the inquest heard.

Mr Atkins's body was recovered from the river the following day.

The second man managed to swim to the other side.

Shropshire coroner John Ellery said evidence appeared to show Mr Atkins was the driver of a rented Vauxhall Insignia that police attempted to pull over in the Copthorne area during the early hours of 16 April.

Mr Atkins drove off at speed, the inquest heard, and the car was later found, half-submerged in the river, near the Frankwell car park.

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The front seat passenger, Shaun Cooper, said he and Mr Atkins had attempted to swim the river.

Mr Cooper reached the other side and climbed up onto the Sabrina, a boat which carries people on cruises along the river, but said when he looked back, Mr Atkins was gone.

Image caption Police carried out searches near Frankwell in Shrewsbury

Mr Ellery said he was not concerned about what the men were doing in Shropshire at the time.

He noted Mr Atkins had been on early release from prison and said his decision to swim "could be because he was trying to avoid arrest by the police".

After the inquest, Mr Atkins's mother, Colette Blenkinsopp, said she still had unanswered questions and added: "I miss him, his boys are devastated."

West Mercia Police said two men from Birmingham had been arrested on suspicion of burglary and had been released under investigation. The incident had been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

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