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Man drowned after falling from mobility scooter into lake
2:33pm Thursday 22nd May 2014 in News
A DISABLED former taxi driver drowned when his mobility scooter slipped down the bank of Liden lagoon and tossed him into the water as he exercised his dogs late at night, an inquest has heard.
Tragically Trevor Barrett was found by police in the same lake which his grandson almost drowned in - an accident for which the 75-year-old blamed himself.
Mr Barrett's head and much of his body was submerged in the water and the scooter was on rocks beside the lake when officers arrived at the scene.
The former RAF man was rushed to hospital as emergency crews hoped he might still be revived but was pronounced dead early on November 24 last year.
Alcohol was found in his blood and the inquest heard he had struggled with drinking since his grandson nearly died when they became separated on a walk by the lake in Swindon, in 2010.
No evidence was given to suggest Mr Barrett committed suicide and Assistant Coroner David Coward recorded a verdict of accidental death.
The hearing in Salisbury, heard that Mr Barrett had been using the mobility scooter for around 18 months after breaking his hip.
Mr Coward said: "Trevor was intoxicated when in the early hours of Sunday morning or late in the evening of Saturday he took his dogs for a walk at Liden Lagoon near his home.
"The scooter had no lights and the conditions were dark.
"It seems that Trevor failed to react to steer the scooter when the path by the lake changed direction and this caused him and the scooter to travel downwards towards the lake and some grass."
The scooter then hit a divot, throwing Mr Barrett onto some rocks and hitting his head before falling in the water.
Earlier that evening his wife of 50 years, Joan Barrett, had returned from the doctors to their home in Edale Moor, Swindon, accompanied by their his daughter, Shelley Hall.
Mr Barrett was on the sofa when they returned and both noticed he was drunk but Mrs Barrett went to bed and Mrs Hall left.
Mrs Barrett, who described her husband as a "gentle, loving and kind man", awoke in the night and realised Mr Barrett, his mobility scooter and their three dogs were gone.
As it was not unusual for him to walk them in the night she didn't worry but when the dogs returned without Mr Barrett she called the police.
At around 4am on November 24 Police Constable Kevin Payne found Mr Barrett in the nearby lake.
"I looked at the rocks and saw a blue-coloured mobility scooter halfway down," PC Payne said in evidence.
"I shone my torch into the water and clearly saw a male person lying in the water."
When he was pulled out he was ice cold but emergency crews thought that because his body temperature was so low they couldn't be sure he was dead, so he was taken to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, where he was pronounced dead.
A small Coca Cola bottle which smelled of alcohol was found near the scene and family members confirmed Mr Barrett would often drink a vodka tonic on his late-night walks.
The inquest heard Mr Barrett began drinking heavily after an accident where his grandson fell into the same lake and nearly died.
In April 2010 the pair went for a walk but became separated when Mr Barrett stopped to talk to someone.
When Mr Barrett returned home alone without his grandson the boy's mother, Mrs Hall rushed out to find him.
She found him face down in the lake and pulled him out but he was left in an induced coma and paralysed for five days.
"The fact that dad blamed himself depressed him and changed him," said Mrs Hall.
His hip injury also had a negative effect, preventing him from doing simple tasks like changing a lightbulb.
The medical cause of death was given as submersion, acute alcohol intoxication and ischaemic heart disease, although Mr Coward could not be sure if this occurred before or after the fall.
Concluding, Mr Coward said: "It was probable that Trevor died as a result of an accident."