St Mary’s Hospital hand gel linked to Paddington canal death

A man who drowned in the canal at Paddington may have been drunk after stealing and drinking alcoholic hand gel from St Mary’s Hospital.

Police investigating the death of Marcin Checiak, 35, are looking into reports that he took the high-strength alcohol gel from the hospital and drank it before he drowned.

Two police officers dived into the canal, pulled Mr Checiak out of the water and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but he was pronounced dead on arrival at St Mary’s Hospital after being rushed there by ambulance.

Hand gels - which can reach an alcohol content of 70 per cent - are located throughout St Mary’s and other hospitals to reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses.

However, there have been numerous instances throughout the country of people stealing them to make lethal alcoholic cocktails when mixed with soft drinks.


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A police source told the Wood&Vale they are investigating reports that Polish national Mr Checiak had travelled from his Coral Street home in Waterloo and gone to Paddington on November 13 specifically to steal the hand gel from the hospital.

It is believed he then went round the back of the hospital to drink the liquid by the canal.

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Police were called to reports of a man in the water at 6.20pm but, despite their attempts to save him, Mr Checiak was pronounced dead at 7.45pm. A post-mortem held the following day ruled the cause of death as drowning.

Mr Checiak’s family in Poland have been informed of his death and further toxicology results are awaited.

Three days prior to his death Mr Checiak had been arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly at a central London hospital and released on bail.

Hyde Park Safer Neighbourhood Team sergeant Ken Taylor said his team had spoken to St Mary’s about the incident and would be working closely with them in the future.

While St Mary’s says it hasn’t had any reports of hand gel being stolen from the hospital this year, a number of hospitals have been forced to remove the liquids to prevent people from drinking it.

An inquest into Mr Checiak’s death has been adjourned to a later date.

A 26-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident and is currently on bail to return to a central London police station in January.

-Mr Checiak’s death is not the first to be linked with alcoholic hand gel kept in hospitals.

An inquest into the deaths of Thomas Sajdak and Oleh Wowczyshyn, both 29, found they died in Streatham in 2008 after drinking “hospital fluids”.

A number of hospitals have resorted to different measures to prevent people from taking the gels to drink.

Hospitals in Lewisham, Sidcup, Dorset and Bristol have all removed their hand gel from entrances to more secure areas over fears of people stealing them.

Elswhere Homerton University Hospital in Hackney replaced its normal hand gel with a lower alcohol foam-based hand wash.

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