Tyne & Wear

Durham rugby players' Sri Lankan death inquest delay

Thomas Baty/Thomas Howard Image copyright DCRFC
Image caption Thomas Baty (left) and Thomas Howard were discovered in their hotel rooms suffering from respiratory failure

More evidence has been requested from Sri Lankan authorities, an inquest into the deaths of two amateur rugby players has been told.

Thomas Howard, 25, and Thomas Baty, 26, were on a tour of the country with Durham-based Clems Pirates RFC in May.

They became unwell after visiting a nightclub in Colombo and died in hospital.

A local investigation found Mr Howard died from intoxication of heroin and Mr Baty from an overdose of an opiate.

The inquest at Crook Civic Centre heard that on 12 May the team had played a match against Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club, after which they had drinks and food with their hosts.

Team members then returned to the hotel, and at about 23:00 local time some of them visited a nearby nightclub called Cleopatra, where they stayed for a few hours.

'Witness statements'

It was understood Mr Baty and Mr Howard left the nightclub together, and travelled back to the hotel in a tuk-tuk - a type of three-wheeled taxi.

In the morning they were discovered in their hotel rooms suffering from respiratory failure, the inquest heard.

Mr Howard died on the way to hospital, and Mr Baty died two days later.

DC Phil McElhone, from Durham Constabulary, told the hearing police were aware of and had requested further evidence from the authorities in Sri Lanka.

This included witness statements, CCTV, photographs and transcripts of interviews.

Coroner Jeremy Chipperfield adjourned the hearing until 4 December.

He said: "It is hoped that at that time progress will have been made in obtaining evidence and that it will be possible to list the resumed inquest."

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