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Holidaymaker drowned in ditch after night out in West Norfolk, inquest hears

15:19 14 August 2012

Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong.

Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong.

Archant

A holidaymaker visiting West Norfolk drowned after he stumbled into a water-filled ditch on his way home from a night out, an inquest heard.

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Peter Harris, a retired NVQ assessor from Cambridgeshire, fell as he was heading back to Snettisham’s Diglea Caravan Park following an evening in the Snettisham Beach Bar just yards down the road.

The 64-year-old, of Windsor Close, St Ives, had been drinking heavily and his body was found by dog walkers early the next morning on April 10, the inquest heard yesterday (Monday).

Derek Stevens, assistant warden at the caravan park, said Mr Harris had kept a static caravan at the site for about eight years and was a regular visitor with his wife.

He saw Mr Harris in the bar on the evening of April 9 and noticed him leave, slightly unsteady on his feet, at about 11pm to walk home, he said.

Mr Stevens remembered the grass had been wet because it had rained all day, it was cold and it was very dark, with no street lights outside.

Richard Hempsall, an employee at the bar, said Mr Harris would call in for drinks throughout the day and visit again each evening when he was staying in Snettisham.

He told the hearing that Mr Harris was a fairly heavy drinker, but he stayed in control and did not slur his words.

There had been two occasions in the last couple of years when he and his wife had helped him home, Mr Hempsall said.

Mr Harris had previously fallen in the dyke on the other side of the road when his dog had alerted passersby, the inquest heard.

His body was found by Roger Barnbrook as he walked his dog at about 6.30am the following morning.

Mr Barnbrook said he flagged down a car and called for help after he saw a man lying face-up in the ditch.

A post mortem examination found Mr Harris had drunk a significant amount of alcohol and was more than three times the legal drink-drive limit.

Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said Mr Harris was popular, compassionate, a devoted family man who was always willing to help others.

He recorded a verdict of accidental drowning.

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