Barman Paul Cook’s death was a tragic accident, rules coroner

A corner has issued a safety warning to revellers after a popular barman fell to his death from a town centre rooftop while drunk.

At today’s inquest into Paul Cook’s death, investigating police officers said they had ruled out any possibility that the 24 year old might have been attacked or taken his own life.

He was spotted by CCTV operators on the pavement outside B&M Bargains in Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, in the early hours of September 3 this year.

Police and paramedics were called and attempts were made to save Paul’s life but after around half an hour he was pronounced dead.

A post mortem examination showed that Paul - also known as Cookie - had suffered multiple traumatic injuries and that his blood alcohol level was 266 milligrammes in 100 millilitres of blood. The drink-drive limit is 80 milligrammes.

Dr Matilda Ralph, who carried out the examination, said: “That is significantly high.”

In some cases Herts coroner Edward Thomas said that level of toxicity can be fatal to those not used to drinking such a high amount.

Police discovered that Paul, of Meadow Road, Bennetts End, had climbed onto the roof via a rear fixed ladder and the inquest was told by his mother Alison that it was a place that he and his friends often gathered.

One family member told the hearing: “After the pubs have shut and you want to carry on and you don’t want to go far from where you are - it is a venue in a sense.”

Paul’s family told the coroner at Hatfield that they do not believe that he was alone on the rooftop on that fateful night.

However, Inspector Neil Spencer said: “I didn’t believe and I still don’t believe there was any third party involvement. I believe it was a tragic accident, possibly caused by intoxication.”

Mr Thomas said: “It is clear to me that he wasn’t assaulted. It is also clear to me that he wasn’t pushed. As far as I’m concerned he didn’t jump.

“A lot of people have described this as an accident and that is my verdict.

“Paul’s tragic death is a message to everybody to be very, very careful of heights especially if they have been drinking.”