Anthony Knott: Fiancée backs call for river safety fencing

Anthony Knott Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Anthony Knott was due home in the early hours of 21 December

The fiancée of a London firefighter who was found dead in a river has backed a petition calling for safety barriers in the area he went missing.

Anthony Knott, 33, disappeared three weeks ago in Lewes and was found on Friday in the River Ouse at Newhaven.

The petition calling on the council to take action to "stop people falling in" has more than 1,300 signatures.

East Sussex County Council said the Environment Agency was the body responsible for rivers and riverbanks.

But it added: "If, as a result of the coroner's inquest, there are any recommendations that fall in our area of responsibility, we will, of course, consider them."

The Environment Agency has also been asked for a comment.

Mr Knott's fiancée, Lucy Otto, shared the petition on Facebook, and said: "No one should have to go through the pain we are."

Image copyright Eddie Micthell
Image caption Specialist crews scoured the River Ouse in the search for Mr Knott

Mr Knott disappeared on a work night out, leaving colleagues at The Lamb pub in Fisher Street for unknown reasons.

Teams searched the River Ouse and nearby Pells area, which was severely affected by flood water at the time.

Mr Knott's body was found by a member of the public on 10 January on Denton Island in Newhaven harbour, about eight miles downstream.

'Safety measures needed'

Ms Otto said: "This river is dangerous and completely open.

"It needs a safety fence to stop this ever happening again. The walkways along the river that are accessible to the public need a safety barrier.

"More safety measures desperately need to be put in place. This shouldn't have happened."

Image caption Mr Knott was found at Denton Island, a stretch of river running through Newhaven's industrial quarter

A study by the University of Portsmouth found that of 150 cases across the UK where men died after going missing on a night out, 85% were found in water.

Mr Knott's brother Aaron Diamond has also given his support to the petition.

He commented: "My brother drowned in this river. It absolutely needs making safe. Something so simple could save a life."

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: "We were very saddened to hear the news about Mr Knott and would like to extend our sympathy to his family.

"While this petition is directed at us, the Environment Agency is the body responsible for rivers and riverbanks and we'd be happy to pass the petition on to them.

"If, as a result of the coroner's inquest, there are any recommendations for the county council that fall in our area of responsibility, we will of course consider them in the normal way."

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