Inquest Hears Man Drowned After Wedding

A 33-year-old man drowned after getting drunk at his sister's wedding, falling asleep on the train home and ending up at a harbour-side railway station, an inquest has heard.

Ben Hilton was reported missing after he disappeared following the celebration at The Roebuck Inn in Winchester on June 8 last year.

The inquest at Portsmouth heard Mr Hilton, who worked at a distribution depot, had been drinking heavily with his brother at the reception for the wedding of their sister Sam Hilton.

He had consumed about seven pints of lager and five Jager Bombs - a mix of Jagermeister and Red Bull energy drink - during the party, which began at about 2.30pm and went on into the evening.

The inquest was told the pub manager asked Mr Hilton to leave at about 9pm because he had become intoxicated, but not aggressive, and placed him in a taxi.

Mr Hilton, a keep fit fanatic, was taken to Winchester railway station where he got on a train heading to his home town of Eastleigh.

But he fell asleep in his seat and was awoken when the train arrived at its final destination at Portsmouth harbour.

Detective Sergeant Justin Powell-Hills, of Hampshire police, told the hearing Mr Hilton was seen on CCTV to leave the train and enter the adjoining jetty for the Wightlink catamaran service to the Isle of Wight.

He said: ''Mr Hilton appears to be confused about his location and he is seen to be unsteady on his feet and disappears from view.''

The inquest heard it was believed Mr Hilton then somehow fell from the fenced-off jetty.

The hearing was told there was no further sighting of Mr Hilton and his body was spotted 10 days later in the water by a passenger on a small ferry which runs between Portsmouth and Hayling Island.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had been approximately two-and-a-half times the drink-drive alcohol limit and it gave a cause of death as drowning.

Mr Hilton's mother Toni Garcia said her son had been happy but drunk during the wedding reception and had been handing out cash as presents to some of the children.

She said: ''This was purely alcohol that has done this.''

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Portsmouth coroner David Horsley said: ''Ben didn't have any troubles and I cannot think for one moment that he deliberately took his own life.

''Ben simply had too much to drink at the wedding, he got on the train, overslept, gone all the way to Portsmouth, got off the train, has been quite confused, he's gone somewhere people do not go, he went on that jetty and somehow has fallen in.

''It's a tragic loss of life of someone who was well-loved. He simply got too drunk that day and no-one can blame him for that, he's a young man and it was a family celebration.''

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