Inquest Into Student's Death After Night Out

A university student was found drowned in the sea after being thrown out of a nightclub for being drunk on cut-price drinks, an inquest heard today.

Richard Staight had been out with friends on a student night at the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Portsmouth on the evening on February 4 this year.

The 20-year-old had been seen drinking beer and wine at a house party before drinking cheap double vodka and Red Bulls at the nightclub.

The inquest at Portsmouth heard that Mr Staight was spotted to be "potentially intoxicated'' in the toilets just after midnight.

When taken aside by door staff, he agreed to leave the premises.

Mr Staight was then seen on CCTV to leave the Gunwharf Quays waterside leisure and retail complex wearing only a polo shirt and jeans and then to walk down local streets in a "weaving'' and "staggering'' manner.

His body was then spotted at 8.05am by the crew of an Isle of Wight ferry floating in the water next to the beach at the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth.

Dr Basil Purdue, a Home Office pathologist, said the cause of death was drowning.

He added that Mr Staight's body showed signs of being in the water for a few hours.

He said toxicology tests showed he had 354mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood which is about four-and-a-half times the drink-drive limit of 80mg.

Dr Purdue said:

"He would have been severely drunk, he would have been very drunk for a young person.

"Clearly that is relevant in how Richard entered the water, it must be a factor.''

Friend Jonathan Murray told the inquest a group of six friends had come round to his house for drinks prior to going to the nightclub.

He said the night was arranged to celebrate the return of a friend who had been studying in America for six months.

He said he saw Mr Staight drink wine in the house and vodka and Red Bull in the club.

He last saw him in the club heading towards the R&B room.

He said:

"He didn't seem to be staggering, he seemed co-ordinated, if anything he seemed a bit quiet.''

Another friend, Peter Czechowski, said they had gone to Tiger Tiger because it was a student night with drinks promotions.

He said Mr Staight and the group had been drinking half-price double vodka and Red Bulls costing #2.25.

He added that Mr Staight had money difficulties and had not been out socialising much recently before that night.

He said:

"Richard loved going out because he loved having a good time but because he had money problems he hadn't gone out much at all.''

Gareth Johnson, door supervisor, said he had been called on the radio to escort Mr Staight from the toilets to be assessed by the duty manager Danny Green.

He said Mr Staight was steady on his feet and spoke without slurring but his eyes were glazed.

Mr Staight agreed when Mr Green suggested it was time for him to leave the club, he added.

He said:

"He wasn't unsteady on his feet, he didn't look at first impressions to be intoxicated.

"He just said, 'It's fine, I want to go home'.''

Mr Johnson said he then escorted him from the premises.

Jonathan Saunders, general manager of Tiger Tiger Portsmouth, said:

"I believe the way we run the venue and conduct ourselves is appropriate.''

David Horsley, coroner for Portsmouth and South East Hampshire, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said he believed Mr Staight became disorientated because of the drink and cold weather after leaving the club and fell into the water in a working fishing port area.

He said:

"What happened is a very tragic accident.

"It is an unforeseen consequence of having a night out with friends.

"I am so awfully sorry, it's the loss of a life with a great deal of potential.''