The heartbroken family of a Sheffield student who drowned in Victoria Quays last July have said life will never be the same without him.
Alex Wilson, aged 19, was out with friends on the night of July 30 last year when he got a taxi home from the city centre earlier than the rest of his group.
He got out of the cab on Arundel Gate, however, before walking to the Sheffield canal basin where his body was found three days later.
After an inquest into the Sheffield Hallam student's death concluded yesterday (January 24), Alex’s family paid tribute to a young man described as ‘shy, funny and intelligent’.
Alex’s dad, Ian Wilson, said the family would never get over what had happened.
“He has left a huge space in all our lives - a big emptiness,” he said.
And Sarah Wilson, Alex’s mum, said it was ‘just horrible’ without him.
“He was a lovely lad - everyone misses him so much,” she said.
“He had his entire life in front of him.”
Ian and Sarah were joined at the inquest by many members of their large family, including Alex’s three sisters, his aunties and his grandparents.
Sarah Wilson described Alex’s twin sister Emma as his ‘soulmate’ and ‘best friend’.
His 'favourite' auntie Ange described Alex as a ‘wonderful and dearly loved’ young man who would be greatly missed by all his family.
And his auntie Siobhan said her ‘beautiful’ nephew was ‘just starting out in life’ and had the ‘whole world at his feet’.
“Life will never be the same without you. I will always love you,” she added.
Concluding the inquest into Alex’s death yesterday, Coroner Chris Dorries ruled that he accidentally fell into the water and was unable to save himself.
“While under the influence of alcohol, Alex walked around those bushes, up the slope and into the canal,” said Mr Dorries.
“I recognise there are differing points of view of how he got there but that is where I have to leave it.”
Mr Dorries added that the owners of Victoria Quays - the Canal and River Trust - had made changes to the site since Alex’s death.
These include two new benches which partially block a direct route to the water.
The court earlier heard from the taxi driver who picked Alex up on Carver Street.
Ishmael Karim confirmed he was given £25 by Alex’s uncle, Michael Leighton, to take him home to Norwood Drive, Pitsmoor.
However, Mr Karim said Alex asked to be let out just minutes later, and he was unable to persuade him to stay in the cab.
Alex’s family added afterwards that they believed better security in the taxi - including mandatory CCTV - may have averted the tragedy.
They also said they felt the additional safety measures added by the Canal and River Trust did not go far enough.