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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Drunken prank led to death fall
Gareth Mason pictured just months before his death
Gareth Mason had played rugby for Cardigan
A drunken "prank" resulted in a man plunging through a flat window to his death, an inquest has heard.

Keen amateur rugby player Gareth Mason, 22, was impaled on railings below, Aberystwyth Coroner's Court heard on Wednesday.

The hearing was told how he had dropped his trousers during the prank after he returned to his flat with friends following a pub crawl.

A verdict of death by misadventure was recorded at the hearing on Wednesday.

Mr Mason was "heavily intoxicated" at the time and lost his balance.

The court was told that he had been on a pub crawl with friends before his death in the early hours of November 10 last year.

The scene of the tragedy
He had a very high reading which was approaching levels of 350 miligrams, when people have been known to die
Coroner Peter Brunton

The group, which consisted of men and women, had returned to Mr Mason's first floor flat in Aberystwyth's Upper Portland Street.

While eating a kebab he was seen staggering and just moments later pulling down his trousers and underwear, the hearing was told.

Witnesses then described how he "waddled" to the window, and shortly after lost his balance and fell.

The pathologist's report noted that Mr Mason, originally from Cardigan, had 292 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood - four times over the legal drink drive limit.

Coroner Peter Brunton said of the level: "He had a very high reading which was approaching levels of 350 miligrams, when people have been known to die."

In her statement to police Katie Stansby, who was in the flat at the time, said someone mentioned girls to Mr Mason and he dropped his trousers and "jokingly" shouted "who wants some of this?".

The scene of the tragedy
Police sealed off the street after the accident

"He said it as a joke," said Miss Stansby. "He said it out of the window, but there was no-one out there.

"His trousers and pants were around his ankles and he could not move. He bent forward and went out of the window.

"He put both of his hands up, opened palms, and tried to stop himself, but he missed the window and fell through.

"It looked like he lost his balance. There was no-one near him at the time."

Mr Mason sustained 15 injuries and marks to his body in the fall, but the major ones were to his lower neck and upper chest, the inquest heard.

His death was due to blood loss, a pathologist's report noted.

The inquest also heard from David Wilson who shared the flat with Mr Mason.

Mr Mason had appeared at the window in a similar manner the night before, he said, but that time was saved from falling through by a friend who managed to grab him.

The following morning when they had sobered up, he said Mr Mason had acknowledged what a dangerous stunt it was.

Recording a verdict of death by misadventure, Ceredigion coroner Peter Brunton said: "What would otherwise have been a prank has taken a turn and resulted in death.

"It's not for me or anyone else to criticise. It's doubly tragic because of the youth of the deceased. The death was so unnecessary."

After the inquest, Mr Mason's father, Tony, said he would be working with young people to highlight the dangers of binge drinking.

Tributes paid to dead man
11 Nov 04 |  Mid

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