Man drowned in Paddington canal after drinking hospital gel

A man who stole and drank alcoholic hand gel from St Mary’s Hospital drowned in the Paddington canal with “rarely seen” high quantities of alcohol in his blood.

Marcin Checiak, 35, was almost six times over the drink-drive limit when he was dragged out by two police officers who dived in to save him last November.

The officers were yesterday praised at an inquest into Polish national Mr Checiak’s death for “doing the right thing” and disregarding health and safety regulations which stated they were not to enter the water.

The inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court heard Mr Checiak, who had a history of stealing alcoholic hand gel from hospital accident and emergency departments, left his Coral Street home with a “drinking buddy” and headed for St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.

Just three days earlier the pair had been arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly at the same hospital when they attempted to steal the hand gel – which can reach an alcohol content of up to 70 per cent.

On the November 11 return trip, the duo were successful in stealing the gel, which is used reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses in hospitals, and they took it to the canal to drink.

Police were called to reports of a man in the water at 6.18pm and Westminster deputy coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe praised Pc Gary Ellis and his colleague for putting aside their own safety.

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“You hear about health and safety concerns all the time and about waiting for back-up before doing anything,” she said.

“You just did what you had to do. Well done. It’s so nice to hear that somebody just did what they thought was the right thing to do.”

The officers performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Mr Checiak but he was pronounced dead at St Mary’s Hospital at 7.45pm.

A post-mortem found he had more than 450mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system.

Dr Radcliffe said she had “rarely seen” such a quantity of alcohol consumed which “would have been fatal for most people”.

The death was ruled as an accident caused by drowning while alcohol intoxicated.