Sheffield Student Caroline Everest 'Died From Hypothermia'

6 July 2016, 15:01 | Updated: 6 July 2016, 15:15

An 18-year-old university student whose body was found in a shallow river died from hypothermia after drinking a large quantity of vodka in a nightclub, an inquest has heard.

Caroline Everest, known as Carrie, was found dead in the Porter Brook, just outside Sheffield city centre, in November last year - two days after she went missing following a visit to the Corporation nightclub.

An inquest in Sheffield heard how Miss Everest had drunk five "pints of purple'' at the club, which her friends said was made up of four shots of vodka, plus a shot of blue Wicked containing two more shots of vodka, as well as food colouring and a mixer.

Senior Coroner Chris Dorries said that if this was true it would have meant she had drunk 30 shots of vodka before she left the club alone.

Mr Dorries heard how post-mortem tests showed Miss Everest had more than three times the legal driving limit of alcohol in her blood.

But Corporation club managing director Mark Hobson said the #3.60 "purple'' drink only contained three shots of vodka and it was an ``urban myth'' that it contained the amount of alcohol mentioned by Miss Everest's friends.

The inquest heard how the Sheffield Hallam University student lost touch with her friends and left the club alone in the early hours of November 22.

CCTV footage showed how she met up with a man who walked with her, with arms around each other and them embracing.

A taxi driver also described how the pair got a cab together. Police said Miss Everest was with this man for about an hour.

At Wednesday's inquest, Yousef Tarfasi admitted for the first time that he was the man in the footage and who took the cab ride.

Mr Tarfasi was arrested in November on suspicion of raping Miss Everest but later released without charge.

Detective Constable Joanna Graves told the court that Tarfasi had always denied being the person in the CCTV or in the taxi despite officers being sure it was him.

On Wednesday, he was reassured by Mr Dorries that he was not on trial and that no-one was accusing him of any offence.

The coroner said: "Were you the person who was with Caroline?''

He said: "Yes.''

Mr Tarfasi said he had been at a salsa club that night and added: "I was going back home and I ran across her and she was drunk and she was crying.''

Speaking through an Arabic interpreter, he said: "I asked her why she was crying and she said her friends had left her and didn't want to go back with her to her house.''

Mr Tarfasi, who is Algerian, told the court how he held her hand and they walked together to where she said she lived, at one point getting a taxi.

Asked directly by the coroner, he denied having sex with Miss Everest.

He said: "No. She was drunk and I helped her. She had no money. I paid the taxi then I left.''

He said he had given her his jumper and retrieved it from her before they parted.

Asked why he told a "pack of lies'' to police, Mr Tarfasi said: "I thought they were charging me with killing her.''

After giving his evidence, Miss Everest's father, Chris, said to him: "Thank you for changing your story.

"Thank you for giving her your jumper. If you had told Carrie you liked salsa dancing she would have definitely got in a taxi with you.''

Mr Dorries was told how the last relevant section of CCTV footage showed Miss Everest sitting by herself on a wall across the river where she was found.

She is then seen going into an area beside the wall which was close to a steep drop into the water, which was 15ft below.

The coroner said it is not known exactly how Miss Everest ended up in the water, especially as she had taken her boots off and left them on the bank.

He said it was possible she fell in or it was even possible she got into the water voluntarily as one of the bizarre consequences that sometimes happen when someone is suffering from hypothermia.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, he said there was no evidence of suicide or any third party involvement.

He accepted the view of forensic pathologist Naomi Carter that Miss Everest died from hypothermia and immersion in water with acute alcohol intoxication as a contributing factor.

Mr Dorries said to Miss Everest's family: "I don't think any one person here can imagine the tragedy that has befallen your family.

"To have your daughter taken from you in this situation is just unbearable.''

In a statement issued after the inquest, her family said: "Carrie was a warm, friendly and energetic young lady. Unfortunately and tragically, her life was ended far too soon.

"She had so many plans for the future - her course at Hallam University and her love of dancing at City Limits.

"It is sad that a night out with friends should end so tragically - a series of unfortunate events.

"Carrie is constantly in our thoughts and is missed by everyone.

"It was an absolute joy and pleasure to have had her in our lives and we will never, ever forget her bewitching smile.''

Her family has said how Sheffield Wednesday fan Miss Everest had a life-long love of dance and decided to stay in her home city of Sheffield when she chose to go to university so she could continue with her dancing and many other interests.