Willington boater's death was accidental

Published: Friday, 01 May 2009

THE death of Des Hutton who died after falling in the Trent & Mersey Canal at Willington was accidental, it was ruled by Coroner Dr Robert Hunter at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner’s Court, though alcohol had a bearing.

He reported at the inquest that Des Hutton accidentally fell into the canal on the 3rd February while attempting to change a gas cylinder on his boat, Swansong on which he had lived moored at Willington for around nine months.

Pathologist Dr Andrew Hitchcock, who performed the autopsy on Mr Hutton’s body at Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, stated there was nothing to suggest he had been assaulted, but reported that Des Hutton’s blood was tested to be 170 milligrams of alcohol per decilitre—almost twice the legal drink-drive limit.

Local resident Jacqueline Orton had noticed something floating in the canal in the early afternoon, and went down with her friend where they saw the body floating in the water face down. A full gas cylinder was found by a nearby boater.

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death by immersion rather than drowning as it was not known whether the temperature of the water had any effect on his death.

Des Hutton had caused some controversy in the village, amongst boaters and with British Waterways, and had been moored on 48hr moorings for around nine months