Tragedy of Great Harwood man who fell into stream on way home from drinking with friends

A man who had been to his friend’s yard for a few Friday night beers was found dead in a stream the following morning.

John Moore, 58, had been picked up on Glebe Street in Great Harwood by his pal, Lee Beswick, on November 6 last year, before the pair headed to Mr Beswick’s home in Clayton-le-Moors.

They were joined by a couple more friends and enjoyed a few hours drinking round a fire pit in Mr Beswick’s yard.

An inquest at Accrington Town Hall heard that the men had drunk a fair bit and according to Mr Beswick’s police statement, Mr Moore was quite drunk, slurring his words and was unsteady on his feet.

Mr Beswick’s statement also said he called a taxi for Mr Moore at around 10.30pm, but he couldn’t remember him leaving as he was also quite drunk.

Coroner Richard Taylor told the inquest: “He was caught on CCTV leaving his place of work at around 4.25pm that day and then went to drink with some mates.

“CCTV footage from later that night showed him leaving his friend’s house and walking, unsteadily, in the direction he would’ve taken, down Lower Barnes Street, in order to go to his home in Great Harwood.

“However, he was found face down in a stream in Oakenshaw Woods the following morning at about 9.30am.”

Mr Moore’s mobile phone and wallet was recovered from his person, and a postmortem found him to be three times over the legal drink drive limit.

The inquest heard that this would have been about normal for Mr Moore, who was an average social drinker.

However, it would also have been enough to leave him unsteady on his feet and possibly cause some disorientation, which is what he may have experienced when walking down the unlit path and over the bridge, which had a stone wall around four metres high, close to Lower Barnes Street, above the stream where he was found.

The postmortem also revealed that he had suffered bruising and cuts to his body, as well as a tear in his aorta, that were all consistent with a fall from height.

He also had swollen lungs which were consistent with drowning, leading the pathologist to offer a medical cause of death as drowning and multiple injuries more than likely to be caused by a fall from height.

Mr Taylor said: “John was very drunk, and Mr Beswick said he couldn’t remember John leaving.

“He said he called John a taxi but John was reluctant to take it because of the Covid situation.

“Several calls were made to John’s phone, from Mr Beswick, at around 10.42pm, but they were only seconds long, which Mr Beswick said must’ve meant he was unable to get through to him.”

A police investigation was launched, which involved dissecting CCTV footage from the area, and making house to house enquiries, but detectives found there to be no third party involvement nor any foul play in Mr Moore’s death.

Mr Taylor said: “I record an accidental death conclusion and say that John Moore, of Garden Street, Great Harwood, was found dead on November 7 in Hyndburn Brook near Lower Barnes Street from injuries sustained when he entered the stream from a height and the affects of him becoming submerged in the water.”

The Westmorland Gazette | North Lancs