Tragic death caused by impalement

Michael Stewart.
Michael Stewart.

A Derry man died when he was impaled on railings while trying to climb though a window into his flat after locking himself out, an inquest in Jersey has heard.

Michael Stewart, aged 30, had been out celebrating St Patrick’s Day earlier this year with friends when the tragedy occurred.

Mr Stewart had been trying to enter his flat, in Val Plaisant, Jersey, in the early hours of the morning via an open window, after he locked his keys inside.

Deputy Viscount Peter de Gruchy, sitting at Jersey Coroners Court, heard that the plumber had climbed up the front of the house before he lost his footing and fell onto railings below.

Dr Amanda Jeffery, Home Office forensic pathologist, told the inquest that she believed Mr Stewart died within minutes of the accident as a result of massive internal bleeding.

She also said that tests showed he was more than three times over the legal blood alcohol limit for driving.

Dr Jeffery added that her findings - including a white substance on his shoes matching the paintwork of the building - supported the theory that Mr Stewart had tried to climb into his flat.

A witness, who discovered Mr Stewart impaled on the fence, told the inquest that his leg was stuck on the railing and that he was not responding.

Puncture injuries were also found to his chest, abdomen and thigh.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Deputy Viscount de Gruchy said that Mr Stewart died from “penetrating injuries to his chest and abdomen which were sustained when he fell”.

He added that the “misadventure most probably happened when, while heavily intoxicated with alcohol, he attempted to climb up to gain entry through a window in his flat”.

A paramedic who was called to the scene said that it was apparent on arrival that Mr Stewart was already dead.

Speaking shortly after the tragedy, Mr Stewart’s older brother Ryan, paid tribute to his sibling and said he had been living in Jersey for the past five years.

He said: “He was well settled and everything. He had a partner in Jersey and he had big plans - getting married and settling down and all the rest.

“He had his whole life ahead of him and it’s just over, ended in seconds.

“We can scarcely take in the fact that this is really happening, on the day when Michael would have rung my mother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, instead she had a phone call delivering this horrific news.

“Michael was happy in Jersey where he has lived for the past five years, although he came home often to see his daughter Jenny who is just nine-years-old and he completely doted on her.

“He recently sent my parents their tickets to come over in June and we were all expecting him to announce his engagement then.

“He was a real daredevil, always game for anything but he was well settled in Jersey.”

Ryan Stewart said that his brother Michael and partner Caroline had enjoyed the trip of a lifetime to Las Vegas to celebrate his 30th birthday in June.