Dad suffocated stuck in rabbit hole in South Yorkshire wood

Stephen Whinfrey, 50 who died after being trapped in a rabbit hole
Stephen Whinfrey, 50 who died after being trapped in a rabbit hole
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A dad suffocated after becoming wedged in a hole at a South Yorkshire beauty spot while trying to catch a rabbit, an inquest heard.

Stephen Norman Whinfrey had been involved in rabbiting most of his life and had took part in the pastime, which involves using ferrets and dogs to catch rabbits, alone many times.

Mr Whinfrey, aged 50, had gone to Squirrel Wood Scout Camp, near Burghwallis, Doncaster, on January 1. He was found by a member of the public shortly before 4pm on January 2.

PC Richard Hall told Doncaster coroner’s court: “We found a male head first in a hole, only his legs and torso were visible. He was at a 45 degree angle, curved around the hole.

“There was a hand coming out of the hole, in between the male’s legs. I could not see the other hand. There were scratch marks on the ground.

“It became obvious that the man was deceased.”

PC Hall said Mr Whinfrey was ‘wedged in’ the hole with ‘hardly any room at all’.

He had taken off his wellington boots and his jacket, which were found next to the hole along with two bags, one which contained ferrets, a spade, knives and a net.

There was also a dead rabbit and a fresh mound of soil next to the hole. His dog tied to a tree nearby.

Mr Whinfrey, of Crossfield Lane, Skellow, had told his family he would see them for lunch at around 1pm on January 1.

But when he did not arrive they became concerned and when they still had not heard from him by the following day they called the police.

Dr Susan Rodgers, who carried out a post-mortem examination, said Mr Whinfrey had died from asphyxia due to a lack of oxygen.

“It is difficult to say exactly when Mr Whinfrey died. He had probably been dead for some hours by the time he was found.”

Assistant coroner Mark Beresford recorded a misadventure verdict and said: “Misadventure occurs when a person undertakes a task that goes unexpectedly wrong. This is what has happened in this case.”