The mother of a teenager who drowned in a river after a night out in York has said she is “unconvinced” that her son’s death was an accident.
Sonny Ferry, 19, died in the River Foss, in York, in April 2019 after he left a nightclub in the city.
An inquest in York today (Tuesday) heard that Mr Ferry’s wallet was lost or stolen on the evening of his death, and that an unknown person tried to use his bank card.
The York Coroner’s Court hearing was also told that a witness heard a voice shouting “help mate” or “help me” before hearing the sound of splashing in the river at around 4.30am on 13 April.
Assistant Coroner Jonathan Leach concluded that Mr Ferry’s death was an accident.
Speaking after the inquest, Kate Ferry, 49, from Ketton, in Rutland, said she was not surprised at the conclusion, but added: “I am unconvinced that Sonny’s death wasn’t more than just an accident.”
She continued: “The last thing I would want is for my son’s death to be through anything other than an accident, but I don’t think the evidence could be described as being non-suspicious.”
Calls for help
Mother-of-four Mrs Ferry, who attended the inquest with her husband Steve and two daughters, Daisy and Grace, praised the emergency services who attended the river on the night of her son’s death but said she thought that police should have carried out door-to-door inquiries as part of an investigation into the incident.
She said: “I think they were too soon to just think ‘he’s been out drinking and he’s fallen in the river, that’s what happens in York’.”
The inquest, which was heard at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, heard that Mr Ferry had travelled to York on April 12 to work as a labourer.
He and two colleagues went out in the city that evening and Luke Lockwood said Mr Ferry was having a “good time”, drinking lager and Jagerbombs, and “treating it like a lads’ holiday”.
Mr Lockwood said the 19-year-old had about £300 in his wallet and was buying drinks for people he met in a nightclub, where they became separated.
Mr Lockwood and colleague Ben Alder went back to their guest house and became concerned the next day when Mr Ferry did not arrive at work.
The inquest heard that Rana Alzahany, who lived in a property next to the River Foss, called police at around 4.30am reporting that she heard a voice shouting for help and the sound of splashing.
North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and the York Rescue Boat attended, but the search was called off after just over half an hour.
‘Sonny was so sweet and loving’
Officers who attended the scene reported being approached by a man who said he had seen a young man asleep against a post near the river.
Detective Sergeant Adam Saggers, of North Yorkshire Police, told the inquest that the man was later interviewed on suspicion of using Mr Ferry’s bank card on a number of occasions both before and after his death but he denied being at any of the locations where the card was used.
Mr Ferry was found by search teams on the river bed the next day and a post-mortem examination concluded that he had died as a result of drowning.
Mr Leach said: “The circumstances surrounding Sonny’s death were investigated by police. Their view was there was no third party involvement or suspicious circumstances.”
Paying tribute to her son after the inquest, Mrs Ferry said: “Sonny was a dream. He was hilarious.
“He was so sweet and loving, he was a friend to everyone.”
She added: “His name was Sonny but he was called Sunshine by a lot of people because that’s what he was. He’ll always be here because the sun’s always here.”
Since Mr Ferry’s death, the family have campaigned to raise funds in his memory to buy the York Rescue Boat a newer and more capable replacement lifeboat.
The Sunshine Campaign has since raised more than £32,000 of its £45,000 target.
More information about the campaign can be found here.