Blind man drowned following Guernsey harbour fall

Image caption,
Guernsey-born Gerald Bisson enjoyed walking long distances, an inquest heard

A blind man who remained "very independent" despite losing his sight drowned after falling onto a pontoon, an inquest heard.

Gerald William Bisson, 80, died on the morning of 23 July at St Peter Port Harbour, Guernsey.

Mr Bisson's body was found floating in the sea at 09:55 BST. The inquest at Guernsey Magistrates' Court heard he had been drinking the evening before.

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Image caption,
Guernsey Police retrieved Mr Bisson's body from the water after being called to St Peter Port Harbour on the morning of 23 July

Mr Bisson, of Delancey Court, Rue des Monts, St Sampsons, Guernsey, suffered from the eye condition glaucoma and was registered as blind.

He had a white stick but didn't like to use it, the inquest heard.

Mr Bisson remained "very independent" and an "avid walker", completing round-island walks of Guernsey into his 70s.

However his ailments and eyesight when combined with alcohol sometimes made him unsteady on his feet causing falls, the coroner was told.

On the evening before his death, St Peter Port barman James Taylor told police Mr Bisson had been drinking "but he was not drunk" when he served him a pint of lager at around 22:00 BST.

A toxicology report showed Mr Bisson had 191 micrograms per 100 mililitres of blood, twice the legal driving limit.

Image caption,
Mr Bisson's body was discovered by a member of the public near the pontoon ramp of the Inter-Island Quay at St Peter Port Harbour.

CCTV footage showed the 80-year-old walking towards St Peter Port Harbour and falling onto a pontoon at 00:33 BST the following morning.

The last known sighting came at 02:54 BST when Mr Bisson was captured on camera getting up following the fall.

His body was found floating in the sea nearby by a member of the public later that morning.

A post-mortem examination determined the cause of death as "drowning at sea, following a head injury and due to a fall under the influence of alcohol".

Judge Cherry McMillen returned the verdict of accidental death and gave permission for Mr Bisson's body to be released.

She expressed her sympathies to relatives and friends.

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