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INQUEST ARCHIVE: Asylum seeker who fled civil war in Uganda drowned in Essex in drunken stupor

A WOULD-be refugee, who came to Essex to escape civil war in Uganda, drowned in the River Lea after drinking herself into a stupor, the Essex News and Investigations inquest archive can reveal.

Arach Michael, 21, of no fixed address, was seen sitting on a grass bank with a rucksack beside her by the river off Highbridge Street, in Waltham Abbey, in Essex, on June 8 2013.

Chelmsford Coroners' Court heard at a hearing on April 2 2014 that she was later found floating in the river.

Susan Rees, coroner's officer, said: "She was recovered from the river and conveyed to Princess Alexandra Hospital, but died the following day.

"A wine bottle and larger cans were found at the scene. Police investigated, but there were no suspicious circumstances. She had a background of mental health problems and alcohol abuse."

The court heard Miss Michael had come to Essex from her native Uganda as a refugee in during the time of the civil war in the north of the country which had a resurgence last year.

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said: "Her asylum application was refused and she had involvement from social services."

The coroner's office was able to trace an aunt who was living in Essex who confirmed she had struggled with a drink problem.

A post mortem found she died from drowning contributed to by alcohol intoxication.

Mrs Rees said: "Toxicology results showed a high level of alcohol in her blood that meant she would have been verging on unconscious. There was also evidence of cannabis use in her blood."

Mrs Beasley-Murray said: "There was no evidence of her having the intention of taking her own life, but there was also insufficient evidence of it being an accident, so I record an open verdict."

Essex News and Investigations Inquest Archive

While covering inquests for the Basildon Echo, our editor Jon Austin would sometimes write up cases for other areas and send them to local newspapers, but many were never published. They are now being published for the record for the first time several years later.


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