Briercliffe snow death of man (27): inquest

MISSED: Gary Windle (S)
MISSED: Gary Windle (S)

A Burnley man collapsed and died in the snow after attempting to walk home following a night out, an inquest heard.

Gary Windle (25) was found by a farmer in Shay Lane, just half-a-mile from his home in Monk Hall Lane, Briercliffe, on Saturday, March 23rd.

He had been out drinking with friends the night before.

The inquest heard a statement from one of those friends, Andrew Mulligan, which said they had been drinking in Harle Syke before going into town and then eventually back to Andrew’s house in Colne.

Andrew said they were drunk when they returned back to his house at around 4am and he had expected Mr Windle to stay over there as he had done on previous occasions. However when he got up in the morning he was gone. “He must have rang a taxi. I don’t remember him having a reason to go. We had had a good night together.”

A statement was then read from taxi driver Sajid Mahmood, the last person to see Mr Windle alive.

It read: “I could see that he was drunk but his speech was OK. I stopped at North Valley Garage and he got some cigarettes. I dropped him off just before the Sun Inn. I could not take him any further because the roads were closed.”

Huge snow drifts that night had forced road closures throughout the area and freezing temperatures had made the condition even more treacherous.

Mr Windle was wearing a shirt, light jacket, trousers and shoes . It is believed that the appalling weather had made it impossible to get down the road on foot and that is why he had cut through the fields to try and get home.

Consultant pathologist Dr Abdul Al-Dawoud, who conducted the post-mortem, said the level of alcohol found in his system would have reduced his core temperature leading to disorientation and poor decision making.

It also would have made him more susceptible to hyperthermia, which Dr Al-Dawoud listed as the cause of death.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, deputy coroner Mark Williams said: “He had intended to go home but unfortunately he did not make it.”