'Smashing lad' who fell on hard times drowned in the River Nene in Northampton

The dad of a homeless man who died after falling into the River Nene in Northampton under the influence of alcohol has paid tribute to his son.

Thursday, 18th May 2017, 4:06 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:44 pm
Dean Harris.

The body of Dean Harris was discovered on the morning of Saturday, November 19, in a stretch of the canal behind the Carlsberg factory.

A County Hall inquest on Wednesday heard how the 43-year-old had talked about taking his own life on previous occasions, having lost custody of his five children.

But toxicology reports on his body revealed Mr Harris had 246 micrograms of alcohol in his blood - three times the drink-drive limit. Deputy coroner Hassan Shah said it was equally likely Mr Harris could have stumbled into the icy waters as his "hazard perception" and balance would have been "seriously impaired".

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Dean Harris.

Delivering a narrative verdict, he said: "I am not satisfied I have evidence beyond reasonable doubt that Dean Harris intended to take his own life.

"He had been trying to detox, he left no note, he did not say to his nearest and dearest that he intended to kill himself."

Mr Harris was born in Pattishall and lived most of his early years in Bugbrooke.

He had worked at the Filtration Control Limited factory in Northampton before falling on hard times and becoming homeless in 2014.

Dean Harris.

At the time of his death, he was living at the Hope Centre in Campbell Street.

Giving evidence at the inquest via a statement, his father George described his son as a "happy-go-lucky" person who loved fishing. Sadly Dean struggled for many years with an alcohol addiction.

"He did try to clean up," said dad George, 75. "He used to visit me in the morning and tell me 'I've got it all together, dad'."

Speaking to the Chron after the hearing, George said: "He was a smashing lad, he really was. Everyone you talk to will say how good he was.

"I miss him so much."