Devon

Wedding guest died in banister slide at Exeter Chiefs ground

Sandy Park Conference Centre Image copyright Google
Image caption Gareth Mound suffered a fatal head injury in the fall at Sandy Park Conference Centre

A wedding guest fell 30ft (9m) to his death while attempting to slide down a banister at a reception, an inquest has heard.

Gareth Mound, 19, was nearly three times the drink-drive limit when he tried to descend the handrail at the Exeter Chiefs rugby club ground.

He suffered a fatal head injury and multiple skull fractures in the fall.

Devon coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland said "alcohol was a factor" in the "dreadful tragedy".

She concluded the death was accidental.

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The Leeds University student was with his cousin Hayley Mound, 31, who told the inquest: "Something flashed past my left eye and I heard a thud."

'First wedding'

She leaned over the banister at the central stairway and saw Mr Mound on the floor.

"I was waiting for him to get up but he didn't.

She said Mr Mound had been told off for "always sliding down banisters".

The groom, Craig Hall, said he and bride Sally had invited 140 guests to the civil ceremony and said Mr Mound, from Maidenhead, flipped backwards over the banister.

'Dreadful tragedy'

He said: "It was Gareth's first ever wedding and he was very excitable all day. I was aware he had been drinking."

A post-mortem said his cause of death was a "devastating head injury" and multiple skull fractures.

His blood alcohol level was 218 milligrams - the legal alcohol limit for drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Dr Earland said: "I am satisfied Mr Mound died in a fall of around 30ft in height while sitting on a stair banister and sliding down it at the Sandy Park Conference Centre during a wedding celebration at around 23:00 on 1 August."

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