Inquest: Ben died trying to get home from Wakefield

Ben Manning's mother Christine next to the River Calder near where her son's body was found.
Ben Manning's mother Christine next to the River Calder near where her son's body was found.

THE heartbroken family of teenager Ben Manning – who died after a night out drinking in Wakefield – are calling for safety measures at the spot where he drowned.

Mum Christine Manning, 50, told the Express she wants lighting and warning signs to be installed near a set of metal steps where a coroner said her 17-year-old son may have tripped and plunged into the River Calder on January 22.

The family have raised £430 towards safety equipment at the Thornes Wharf Lane site – but had been unable to track down the owner of the land.

Mrs Manning said: “We want to speak to them about how we can make the site safer. We want to make sure no other family has to go through what we’ve been through. If it saves one life, it’s worth it.”

An inquest heard how Ben, of Primrose Gardens, Swillington, had been watching a gig at the Black Flag, on Smyth Street, on January 21.

He had planned to get a lift home but decided to stay in the city centre,

He was last seen in Havana bar, but left without telling his friends and was spotted on CCTV walking up Denby Dale Road.

The court heard Mrs Manning reported him missing to the police when he failed to return home the next morning.

Hundreds of people took part in a massive search operation and thousands joined a Facebook group dedicated to finding him.

Tragically Ben’s body was found by police divers in the river on February 2.

A postmortem examination revealed the cause of his death as drowning. Toxicology tests showed he was more than twice the legal drink drive limit.

Det Sgt David Lister, of West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major inquiries team, said he believed Ben might have been trying to find his way to the railway station to catch a train home.

The inquest heard it was the teenager’s first night out in the city and he did not have enough money left to pay for a taxi to Swillington.

Coroner David Hinchliff said: “You believe that he’s climbed over the wall and used the metal steps – but it would have become darker. There would be no, or very sparse, light. Any stumble could have caused him to fall into the water.”

Det Sgt Lister said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Ben’s death.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner added: “It was a tragic situation where a man – unfamiliar with the city – had too much to drink, was lost and disorientated trying to find his way home and inadvertently stumbled into the river.”