Birthday celebration led to tragic canal drowning

Jonathan Law, 22, from Swinton
Jonathan Law, 22, from Swinton
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A YOUNG man celebrating a friend’s birthday drank so much alcohol he was three-and-a-half times the legal driving limit when he slipped into a canal and drowned.

Jonathan Law had celebrated his own 22nd birthday with his family the night before and was very happy, an inquest was told.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Nicola Mundy said there was no suggestion he intended to harm himself when he fell in the canal at Swinton this summer.

Jonathan, a care support worker, is believed to have drank more than eight pints of beer in two venues in Swinton before he disappeared in the early hours of July 10.

A police diver located his body under the algae-covered surface of the disused canal, near Whitelea Road, the next day.

Graham Law, his father, said the family had celebrated his 22nd with an Indian restaurant meal on July 8 and he had a good time before thanking everyone for their birthday wishes on Facebook.

The next night he went to the Sports Cafe bar in Swinton for the friend’s party but when he did not return home the family alerted police.

Police diver Greg Drury found his body at 5pm on July 11, about 2.5m below the surface and 8m from the towpath.

Brothers Gary and Christopher Hobson had both been with Jonathan at the Sports Cafe before they went to The Bridge bar for more drinks.

Gary described Jonathan as being in ‘high spirits and stumbling around’.

Christopher said Jonathan had about eight pints of lager in the Cafe and added: “I do not know how much he had to drink after that.”

The inquest was told that earlier this year Jonathan was treated in A&E at Doncaster Royal Infirmary for alcohol poisoning.

The autopsy showed Jonathan died from drowning with excess alcohol a contributory cause.

A blood sample showed his alcohol level at the time of death was 283mgs – the driving limit is 80mgs – which would have a detrimental effect on his functions.

The towpath by the canal would have been the quickest way for him to get home to Thomas Street, Swinton.

Ms Mundy said Jonathan was very happy at his 22nd birthday and enjoyed his friend’s celebrations.

“There is no evidence to suggest any third party involvement and no evidence to suggest it was a deliberate attempt on his life. He was simply making his way home after drinking alcohol. His route took him past the canal and he fell into the water.”