Ferry boy 'may have jumped for bet'
Published 25/10/2013 | 14:11
A teenager who drowned after jumping off a ferry may have done so for a £100 bet, an inquest has heard.
Jordan Cobb, 16, leapt from the boat as it travelled from Devonport in Devon to Torpoint in Cornwall on New Year's Eve last year.
Plymouth Coroner's Court was told that the teenager turned to friends and asked "Shall I jump off?", before diving off the vessel when it was 230ft (70m) from the shore.
The student was initially seen to resurface and swim but quickly disappeared from view in the River Tamar.
A huge search operation commenced but Jordan's body was not found until January 16 this year, when it was discovered by a ferry worker.
Ian Arrow, coroner for Torbay and South Devon District, ruled that Jordan had died accidentally.
"Jordan went out for a pleasant evening on December 31," the coroner said.
"He had been to meet with friends and all had consumed some alcohol over a period of time and decided to take the ferry to Torpoint.
"I am satisfied from the evidence I have heard that Jordan decided to dive off the ferry.
"We know he entered the water, sadly I conclude he didn't leave the water. I suspect he died that day.
"We can't be certain why he dived off, whether it was bravado or for some other reason. I am satisfied he certainly didn't expect to die."
The inquest heard Jordan, from Plymouth, went to celebrate the new year with friends on December 31 last year.
Friend Vaughan Boltwood, who had known Jordan for five years, told the inquest they drank Carlsberg and a bottle of Jagermeister together.
Vaughan did not know how much Jordan drank but said he personally consumed eight cans of Carlsberg in an hour and a half.
At around 8.30pm, the group walked to the ferry and boarded the 9pm boat before playing on games and slot machines.
"As the ferry approached the Torpoint side, we all moved to the front side of the ferry so we could get off," Vaughan told the inquest.
"We were all stood around the area and Jordan Cobb said something like 'shall I jump off?' I can't remember what brought this conversation up.
"We were all laughing and not taking the conversation seriously. I walked towards Jordan and he said to me 'hold my bag for a second'.
"He handed me the bag, walked outside the passenger door, climbed on top of the barrier and dived overboard.
"I could see Jordan go under the water, he re-emerged and began to swim away from the ferry. I lost sight of him. We all began to panic."
The group raised the alarm and a large search operation began to find Jordan.
Holly Glynn, who was out celebrating with friend Nicola Thomas, was walking by the ferry when she saw a group of "angry lads".
Miss Glynn recognised one of the group, Jack, as a neighbour's grandson and began to talk to him and another boy called Nathan.
"Nathan started to cry," she said. "He said 'it's my fault, I was supposed to do this, we all bet £100 and Jordan jumped instead of me'.
"Nathan repeated 'it was a bet, we bet £100 we wouldn't jump off. I was meant to do it. It is my fault'."
Miss Thomas, who also consoled Nathan, added: "Nathan said 'it was a bet of £100 and it was me who should've jumped it but Jordan did it himself''.
"I couldn't comprehend why anyone would want to do this."
Detective Constable Barry Crow, of Devon and Cornwall Police, spoke to Nathan Watch at his home address.
He said Nathan confirmed there was "talk" about someone jumping off the ferry but did not see Jordan - or 'Cobby' as he described him - jump in.
Ferry worker Philip Barsley discovered Jordan's body floating on ferry chains in the River Tamar at 4.50pm on January 16 this year.
Jordan was discovered with his headphones still in his ears and attached to his HTC mobile phone, wearing new trainers.
His body was identified by distinctive tattoos, including 'In memory of granddad Cobb' on his arm and a five-pointed star on his ankle.
Pathologist Dr Dean Harmse, of Derriford Hospital, said: "In my opinion, the cause of death was drowning, with the adverse effects of alcohol use."
Jordan's blood contained 196mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, which is more than two times the drink drive limit of 80mg in 100ml of blood.
"The alcohol concentration is likely to have resulted in an impairment of motor and cognitive function," Dr Harmse added.
Detective Constable Mike Lugger told the coroner Jordan could not have accidentally fallen from the ferry.
"We have carried out extensive inquiries, part of that is video and witness statements. One of the videos does clearly show that Jordan did dive off the side of the ferry.
"Whether it was for a bet or a prank, we cannot say."
Jordan's family did not wish to comment after the inquest.