1:37pm Wednesday 25th September 2013
By SNJ Reporter
STUDENT George Ford, 20, had been ‘acting strangely’ and hallucinating in the days leading up to his death last December, an inquest heard today.
Tests on George’s body found traces of cannabis and benzodiazepine drugs, which he bought over the internet.
But Gloucestershire assistant coroner Tom Osborne said it was impossible to determine how George, of Slad road, Stroud, came to die in the River Frome and he recorded an open verdict.
The inquest in Gloucester heard that George, a Nottingham University student, was reported missing on December 16 last year.
Police divers found his body in the River Frome at Wallbridge on December 20.
Pathologist Dr Pritti Joshi was unable to ascertain the cause of his death but in a statement said traces of cannabis and the drug Alprazolam were found in his body.
Pc David Slade said the last sighting of George was CCTV footage of him walking from the town centre towards Wallbridge on December 17.
On December 18, George's jeans, wallet and phone were found and the next day Avon and Somerset police divers found his body in the river.
"There is no evidence to suggest any third party involvement in his death or to support that he has taken his own life," PC Slade said.
The coroner said: "I have to accept that the actual cause of death remains unascertained.
"It is difficult for me to reach any conclusion."
He said he could not be sure beyond reasonable doubt that George had taken his own life and there was not enough evidence to say he had drowned.
"I cannot say if he suffered an accident or was simply walking along the river and fell in as a result of being overcome by hallucinations or whatever,” he said.
"As a parent of children who went through university all I can say on behalf of the coroners' service here is to express our own condolences and sympathies for this tragic death."
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