Drunk student crushed to death in a refuse lorry after falling asleep in a wheelie bin

Canadian Garrett Elsey had been in Bristol for less than 24 hours

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The Independent Online

A student was killed by being crushed in the back of a refuse truck after getting drunk at a party welcoming him to the UK, an inquest has heard.

Canadian graduate Garrett Elsey had been in Bristol for less than 24 hours when he died, having drunk more than seven pints of beer and four shots of Jagermeister to celebrate his first night in the city.

On 26 September last year, on his way home from a club, and with no mobile phone, Mr Elsey lost his bearings in an unfamiliar city and apparently decided to spend the night in a wheelie bin instead of looking for his accommodation.

He had been about to start a Masters in international security at university in the city, and was meant to be staying with an old friend of his who was also studying in the city.

Unfortunately for Mr Elsey, the weekly collection was due to take place just a few hours after he climbed into the bin. He died in the back of the lorry after his container was tipped into the compacter.

Three binmen who had been on duty that morning told a coroner the process was "automatic", and that none of them had heard him cry for help above the loud noise of the truck's hydraulic machinery.

It was not until the vehicle was emptied at a landfill site that the horrific discovery of a dead body was made.

Mr Elsey's inquest heard that his official cause of death was given as "traumatic asphyxia".

Pathologist Dr Amanda Jeffrey said a post-mortem examination found high levels of alcohol in the deceased's bloodstream and that he also showed early signs of hypothermia.

"The levels were 144 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of blood," she said.

"As a reference point, the legal driving limit is 80.

"A person who had drunk this amount of alcohol would be showing obvious signs of drunkenness - staggering and some slurring of their words.

"It's possible that the combination of alcohol and his body warmth led to an increased risk of hypothermia.

"People suffering with hypothermia can often become very confused and make strange decisions... they may seek refuge in confined spaces."