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Leeds: New call for river safety over tragedy

FATAL WATER: The spot on the Aire where Mrs Pybus vanished.

FATAL WATER: The spot on the Aire where Mrs Pybus vanished.

A coroner says riverside safety should be improved to prevent more deaths after a woman drowned following a boozy Valentine’s Day.

Jane Pybus, 45, of Magellan House apartments at Clarence Dock, was found dead in the River Aire in the early hours of Monday February 15 last year, heard Wakefield Coroner’s Court.

She had been eating and drinking in the city centre with husband Daniel on the Sunday afternoon before returning home and falling asleep at 8pm. Waking at 1am to find herself alone Mrs Pybus walked to the nearby Alea Casino for several glasses of wine.

CCTV captured her final moments as she “staggered” alone and “very much the worse for drink” from the casino at one end of Clarence Dock, past the Royal Armouries museum and towards her apartment at 4.30am, coroner David Hinchliff said.

She was last seen on camera disappearing down stone steps to the river directly outside Magellan House.

Her body was found floating face down in the water by two men on their way to work, confirmed Detective Sergeant Mick Hudson.

Mr Hinchliff said he believed that Mrs Pybus, who had only moved to Clarence Dock a few days earlier, had in her inebriated condition become disorientated and taken a wrong turn as the steps led on a “path to nowhere”.

Jane Pybus was confirmed dead at Leeds General Infirmary on February 15 at 9am.

A toxicology test later revealed an excessive alcohol intake combined with a “high level” of prescription anti-depressants that would have adversely affected her thinking, reasoning and movement.

Coroner Hinchliff recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: “What I intend to do is to make a recommendation, a Rule 43 of the Coroners’ Rules, to deter occurrence of future fatalities.”

He asked landowners Lend Lease to work with all relevant parties to either gate off the steps in question or improve lighting and safety features.

As previously reported, city leaders have launched an action plan to tackle safety following several deaths and near misses on the River Aire.

 

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