A YOUNG tree surgeon drowned when he fell off a bridge into a stream after a night out with friends, an inquest has found.
Patrick ‘Paddy’ Kellett, 21, was found lying face down in a shallow stream in Bloxham after going drinking in Banbury last August.
An inquest at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court yesterday heard tests showed Mr Kellett was three times over the drink-drive limit when he died.
Friends had not seen Mr Kellett since they were together at the MooMoo nightclub in the town’s High Street.
Police believe he fell into the stream near Lower Bridge Road while he was making his way to a friend’s house after taking a taxi to Bloxham alone.
Mr Kellett, of Mullein Road in Bicester, had sent a text message to friend Steven O’Connor at about 1.40am on Saturday, August 10, which read: “See I back at yours” [sic].
But the inquest heard Mr O’Connor had been taken in to police custody for reasons that were not disclosed after the night out and would not have been home.
Dc Michael West, the investigating officer, told the inquest Mr Kellett had been seen leaving the club on CCTV and heading towards the taxi rank.
But Dc West said appeals to find the cab driver who took Mr Kellett back to Bloxham had failed.
The detective also said Mr Kellett had an injury to his temple he had probably suffered in the 6.4m fall from the bridge.
Mr Kellett’s body was found by villager Virginia Seckerson as she checked on her chickens shortly after 8am. Her husband David went into the stream to check for a pulse but knew Mr Kellett had died, the court heard.
A statement from Pc Barry Duplock, who was the first officer on the scene, said Mr Kellett was found in water 15 to 20cm deep.
Mr Kellett’s mother, Jackie Kellett, said scratches found on her son’s body were likely to have been caused by his tree surgeon work.
She also questioned whether her son had been walking along the bridge wall when he fell or even standing on the bridge and urinating into the stream. She said: “It is the sort of thing they would have done. For a tree surgeon, heights were not an issue.”
Oxfordshire Coroner Darren Salter recorded a verdict of accident and said it was most likely that Mr Kellett had fallen from the bridge into the stream.
Speaking after the inquest, a family member who asked not to be named, said: “He was much loved and he is terribly missed by his friends and family.
“The family are incredibly grateful for the huge amount of support and love that has been shown for Paddy.”