Man died after ‘drunk swim’

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A booze-fuelled swimmer perished in the Whitby waters after getting into trouble during an early morning plunge.

The lifeless body of 52-year-old dad Neil Laity was dragged from the sea by lifeboat volunteers just before 5am on May 8 this year.

The inquest at Scarborough Town Hall on Thursday heard Mr Laity, a plumber, was a family man, who having grown up next to the sea, was an “excellent swimmer”.

His father Michael added there was “no reason” why his son should have been in the sea at that time.

However, the inquest heard evidence from pathologist Dr Mohamed Musa, who said tests found “high” levels of alcohol in his system, which could have caused confusion.

But Michael Laity said that despite his son consuming high quantities of alcohol hours before his death, he wasn’t a big drinker.

Coroner Michael Oakley also heard evidence from other witnesses who saw what happened on that fateful morning.

This included harbour watch keeper Dean Hawksfield, who became concerned about Mr Laity’s wellbeing after spotting him stripping, before venturing down the steps into the water.

Fisherman Chris Ople, spotted him in the water singing to himself. He said: “We just thought it was a man swimming, enjoying himself.”

Mr Laity had been in the water for around 30 minutes before Mr Hawksfield spotted him “gasping”.

He alerted the relevant authorities and sent out an SOS alert to all vessels in the area to try and rescue him.

When askede why his vessel didn’t go to his aid, Mr Ople said it would have been “risky” due to low water levels, the size of their draft. He added that his vessel simply didn’t receive the alert.

And describing Mr Laity’s final moments, Mr Hawsfield said: “He started to slow down - then he just stopped.

“He put his head down in the water and bubbles started to come up.

“He just remained there.”

Mr Oakley ruled that Mr Laity had “succumbed” to the effects of alcohol.

Ruling his death an accident, Mr Oakley added: “Perhaps the combination of the alcohol and the water did effect his ability to swim, and sadly, he drowned.”