Shropshire Star

Oswestry canoeist drowned in canal after drinking alcohol

A canoeist from Oswestry fell into a canal and drowned after drinking alcohol, an inquest heard.

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Craig Michael Batha, aged 48, was found in Llangollen Canal on April 15 this year by walkers. They used a hook to get him out of the water and CPR was started, but Mr Batha died at Wrexham Maelor Hospital the next day.

Toxicology reports showed Mr Batha, of Greenfields, St Martins, had 218 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. By comparison the legal drink-drive limit is 80mg. The cause of death was given as multiple organ failure caused by hypoxic brain injury due to drowning.

Mr Batha was born in Chirk, and was unemployed at the time of his death. His stepfather, Brian Knight, was in attendance at the inquest.

A statement from Detective Sergeant Laura Breeze was read out at the Shirehall hearing.

She said that she attended the hospital to check Mr Batha's body for injuries. She found no "defensive" or suspicious injuries. The only marks she found were caused by medics inserting tubes as they tried to save his life.

"He was often canoe in the canal and was a heavy alcohol drinker," DS Breeze said.

Her enquiries found that Mr Batha was dropped off by his stepfather between 12.30pm and 1pm on April 15. She said a witness saw Mr Batha lying down in his inflatable canoe.

A man saw Mr Batha canoe past his house at around 5pm, sitting upright in his boat. He was found face down in the water, about 300 metres further upstream around an hour later. Walkers got him out of the water and gave him CPR.

Police also assisted in trying to revive Mr Batha before he was taken to hospital. He died on April 16 at 1.35pm.

DS Breeze's enquiries found no evidence of an assault or signs of disturbance relating to the incident.

"I am satisfied there was no third party involvement," she said.

John Ellery, senior coroner for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

"There is no evidence that his death was deliberate," he said.

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