Father-of-three drowns in canal by Manchester’s Gay Village after climbing on lock following row with girlfriend

A father-of-three from Manchester fell into a canal by the Gay Village and drowned after drunkenly climbing on top of a lock gate and falling off.

Sean Markey, 39, had been attempting to cross the gate in torrential rain to get home at 5am when he slipped and tumbled into the water.

His body lay undiscovered for three days until it was spotted floating in the Rochdale Canal, which runs alongside Canal Street in Manchester’s Gay Village, by a husband and wife driving their barge.

Inquiries revealed Sean had been drinking with a friend until the early hours on October 3 last year after storming from the home of his partner following an argument.

Tests showed he was more than three times the drink driving limit.

The notorious stretch of canal has claimed a staggering FIFTEEN lives since 2000.

This year alone two people have died in canals in Manchester city centre, with a further three in 2013, including Sean.

An inquest in Manchester was told Sean, from Newton Heath, Manchester, had been suffering from depression following the death of his father and had a series of rows with his girlfriend Tracey Sutton.

She told the hearing: “On September 30 the two of us had an argument and as a result he left the house but soon came back.

“We had a further row when he returned then he went to my nephew’s. He eventually came back but he was drunk and we had an argument.

”During the course of the argument I threw a cup that hit him in the head. He walked out of the house and went to hospital and came back briefly then we had another argument.

“He came back on October 3 and had been drinking again and we had a further argument and he left the house because of that. That was the last time I saw him.

Tracey said that she went into town where he used to go between October 3 and 6 but no-one had seen him.”

Sean’s body was found on October 6 when Dean Squire, who was driving a barge along the water, said he used a pole to poke an ‘object’ he saw floating in the water and realised it was a body.

CCTV cameras traced Sean’s movements to 5.21am on October 3 when he was seen on the canal towpath with another man. 

Using cameras from nearby nightclub G-A-Y, police officers found that Sean had climbed on to the lock gate that crosses the canal.

PC Dean Burgess said: “The lock gate has a hand rail across it. The figure isn’t quite clear enough to see.

“It was raining quite heavily at the time. He then disappeared from view as there is an obscurement of the camera behind a wall.

“As he was across the canal that was the last sighting of him. The obstruction prevented us from seeing whether he made it across.”

The other man was seen on CCTV returning to the canal towpath seven minutes later but after questioning it was confirmed he went to sleep on a nearby industrial barge and was not involved in Sean’s fall.

Tests showed Sean had 268microgrammes of alcohol per 100mililitres of blood. The legal driving limit is 80mg. A cause of death was given as drowning accompanied by alcohol intoxication.

Recording a conclusion of death by misadventure, coroner Graham Jackson addressed Ms Sutton and said: “From the CCTV it is clear he was endeavouring to cross the lock bridge with a high level of blood alcohol.

“In all probability there was a combination of being under the influence of alcohol and his co-ordination being affected and the weather condition was such that the wooden gate would have been slippery.

“This is clearly a tragic incident. He was a relatively young man. I know he had some difficulties with you and had gone away for a day or two but this is no more than a tragic accident. The words I can say will offer no comfort to you for this sad loss.

“Where he was going and why I’m not sure but he was trying to cross the canal and I think it will be right to say he was the author of his own misfortune.”

The canal, which claimed Sean’s life, is opposite a number of popular pubs and clubs on Canal Street with some open until 7am on weekends.

Inspector Phil Spurgeon, from the Gay Village neighbourhood policing team, said: “The reality is when you have a busy city, a vibrant night time economy, you have 500 licensed premises in 2.2 square miles, you put a big canal system through the middle of that and you are going to end up with some fatalities, which is dreadful.”

Story via Cavendish Press.

Image courtesy of Mikey, witht thanks.

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