A Glengormley man who died after plunging into the icy River Lagan on a night out was seen hanging from a footbridge by his legs just moments before he fell in, a court has heard.
The inquest into the death of Joby Murphy, held at the Coroner’s Court in Belfast yesterday, heard details of how the 20-year-old ended up in the water on his way home from a concert at the nearby Odyssey Arena.
A post-mortem examination showed that at the time of his death in the early hours of January 26 this year, Joby, whose real name was Joseph, had a blood alcohol reading roughly four times the legal drink-drive limit.
Joby’s girlfriend of two years, Karen McKeever, gave evidence and said the couple had been at a Snow Patrol concert in the Odyssey on the night he died.
She told the court that Joby had two bottles of cider at the concert, having already consumed alcohol at home. She said he then had four or five double vodkas at the Beach Club, also in the Odyssey, and was “getting more and more drunk”.
Ms McKeever said she brought him outside but he refused to get into a taxi, telling her he would follow her home a short time later.
Reluctantly, she agreed.
Enison Kalu had been working as a security guard at Lagan Weir when he saw Joby hanging off the rail on a CCTV camera.
He told the inquest he left his station and approached Joby, telling him to get down.
Another eyewitness, Jason Downes, told how he tried to coax Joby from the rail as he came across him while walking home.
“He kept saying he didn’t care,” said Mr Downes.
He said Joby didn’t shout for help once in the water, until he had reached a boat which he had placed one hand on. Joby then disappeared out of sight.
Joby’s father — also Joseph — said he was angered at the drinks promotions on offer at the Beach Club, which included vodka for £1, describing them as “irresponsible”.
Coroner John Leckey said he believed that Joby died as a result of “alcohol and cold weather”. “I don’t think what happened would have happened had it not been for the fact he was so intoxicated, plus the cold weather,” said Mr Leckey.
Speaking after the inquest, Mr Murphy said he felt “relieved”.
“(Joby) was out and drank like there was no tomorrow. Young people don’t realise the strength of vodka. They get it for a pound and it can kill you.
“I think more needs to be done to stop it as it is still going on.”