River death man was sick, not drunk

Last updated 12:27 16/11/2012

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A Christchurch man who the public perceived as being drunk was actually suffering from a medical condition before he fell into a river and drowned, a coroner has ruled.
Craig Trevor Beckley drowned when he fell off his bike into the Heathcote River either on October 30 or 31 last year, coroner Richard McElrea said in his findings, released today.
The 47-year-old sickness beneficiary suffered from a medical condition which led the public, who saw him the night of October 30, to believe that he was drunk.
He was not drunk but instead suffered from a medical condition which made him appear vacant and witnesses "mistakenly" thought he was acting in a drunken manner, McElrea said.
Some medical evidence, including Beckley's condition, has been suppressed.
Beckley was last seen by a member of the public standing in the middle of the Rutherford St bridge, straddling his bike.
A car had to swerve to avoid him, a witness said.
He was "just standing there vacant and blank," the witness told the coroner. "At the time he wasn't moving; he was standing completely still over his bike looking straight ahead."
His body was discovered in the Heathcote River next to Riccarton Rd the following morning.
There was a small amount of frothy sputum in his mouth when he was found, which indicated he had most likely drowned.
There was no evidence of suspicious circumstances or that his death was intended, McElrea said.
"Having dismounted from his bicycle on the riverbank in question, in darkness, he has fallen into the water and drowned.
"Although it is likely this has occurred shortly after he was observed at about 10pm, it is possible that it has occurred some time later."

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