River-death man was sick, not drunk

MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 12:52 16/11/2012

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A Christchurch man who the public perceived as being drunk was 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 on October 30 or 31 last year, coroner Richard McElrea said in his findings, released today.
 
Beckley, a 47-year-old sickness beneficiary, suffered from a medical condition that led people who saw him on the night of October 30 to believe that he was drunk.
 
He was not drunk but suffered from a medical condition that made him appear vacant, and witnesses "mistakenly" thought he was acting in a drunken manner, the coroner 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 found 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 drowned.
 
There was no evidence of suspicious circumstances or that his death was intended, the coroner said.
 
"Having dismounted from his bicycle on the riverbank in question, in darkness, he has fallen into the water and drowned,'' he said.
 
"Although it is likely this has occurred shortly after he was observed about 10pm, it is possible that it has occurred some time later."

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