Gavin Britton hazing death
A student drank so much he died after an initiation ceremony for his university's golf society, an inquest heard yesterday.
Gavin Britton stood on a chair in one pub and was cheered as he downed a green concoction known as a Jackson Five that may have contained up to 12 shots of alcohol.
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'A wasted life': Gavin Britton, pictured partying with friends, claimed his motto was to 'live on the edge'
It was one of many drinks he consumed during an evening of "pub golf" in which each had to be finished within 30 seconds and in a 'par' number of swigs.
The 20 student golfers he was with were too drunk to remember when or where Mr Britton was last seen during the three-hour pub crawl in November 2006, the hearing was told.
His body was found by workmen in Exeter city centre the next morning.
Mr Britton, 18, who was weeks into his first year studying business at Exeter University, had joined the golf society soon after starting his course.
Exeter University freshman Gavin Britton, 18, died from alcohol poisoning playing pub golf as a freshers' week initiation
His parents Ian, a property developer, and Susan, a former dental nurse, from Barton on Sea, Hampshire, listened as their son's friends described how binge drinking was "usual behaviour" during initiation ceremonies at the university.
One member of the golf society told the hearing in Exeter how Mr Britton drank the Jackson Five. Fraser Hassell, 19, said: "He was standing on a chair and everyone was cheering him on. He was handed a drink by the barman and started to down it in one.
"He nearly finished it all.
"It was a green and yellow colour but nobody knew what was in it. Gavin then ran to the toilet and was sick everywhere.
"I asked him if he was OK and he said, "What was in that? It tasted like pure alcohol"."
In a statement, the barman who gave Mr Britton the drink insisted it was just vodka, gin and pineapple juice. Other witnesses suggested it contained up to 12 measures of alcohol.
Gavin Britton's body was found in the city centre the next morning - his golfing partner had given up and gone home
The pub crawl took in 13 bars, although it is not known how many Mr Britton visited. The students, who were in fancy dress, were given penalty drinks if they failed to finish each beverage within the 30 seconds or in a designated number of swigs, similar to the way a hole on a golf course is given a par of a certain number of strokes.
The evening began with a Par One - a can of cider drunk in one go. This was followed by a Par Two pint of cider and blackcurrant juice, then vodka, Jack Daniel's and wine were consumed in an allotted number of gulps as the evening continued.
Mr Hassell told the hearing: "There was a lot of pressure to keep up with our peers during the initiation ceremony."
However, former geography student Alexander MacGregor, 22, who was golf team captain, said the drinking games were "a normal thing that happened during these ceremonies".
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Lethal: It is claimed Mr Britton drank four vodkas, three pints of cider, a glass of wine and numerous shots of Sambuca before downing a potent mixture of spirits.
He added: "Nobody was pressurised to drink, there was no bullying."
The group were given score cards and were marked on how many gulps they took.
Exactly how much Mr Britton drank is not clear, but it was said that he consumed four vodkas, three pints of cider, a glass of wine and numerous shots of Sambuca before downing the Jackson Five.
He had posted photos of his previous drinking on the website MySpace and said his motto was: "If you're not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space."
The inquest was told that four weeks before his death, Mr Britton had been found by police "drunk and incapable" after an all-day drinking session and had been taken to hospital for treatment.
Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland recorded a verdict of alcohol poisoning. She said it was a "sad tale of a wasted life".
A spokesman for Exeter University said last night that initiation ceremonies by student societies had been banned.