A brave and loyal dog desperately tried to drag his owner out of a stream after he tripped and fell following a friend’s birthday celebrations, an inquest heard.
Gary Munt was walking with his loyal dog Jess next to the stream when he fell in, after a day watching football with his pals.
CCTV footage was described at the inquest which showed him unsteady on his feet as he checked his phone while walking with Jess and fell into the stream.
Describing the incident which was caught on CCTV camera, Assistant Coroner for Berkshire, Emma Jones, said: “His dog comes into view, Mr Munt then comes into view and he is alone and wearing the same clothing he was found in.
“He appears to be looking at the screen of his phone, is unsteady on his feet; and is veering from one side of the path to the other.
“Minutes later his dog runs ahead of him and he is seen unsteady again. At one point he veers close to the stream. He looks at his telephone once more and stumbles backwards and falls into the stream.
“No other people were around at the time. It was not a deliberate act.”
Mr Munt’s three sisters Gloria Munt, Shirley Munt, and Tricia Gealy audibly gasped when they heard how he tried vainly to climb out while Staffordshire Bull Terrier Jess did her best to help.
“He can then be seen trying to get back up the bank,” Ms Jones added.
“The dog returns and the dog is seen several times trying to pull Mr Munt’s collar and pull him out of the water.
“You see the dog coming back and forth and you don’t see Mr Munt coming out of the stream.”
The inquest in Reading, Berkshire, heard that 58-year-old Mr Munt, of Frogmore Close, Slough, Berkshire, had been celebrating his best friend’s birthday by going to watch Chelsea play football on November 20, 2016.
A toxicology report found 298mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system; well over the legal drink drive limit of 80mg, along with cocaine and cannabis compound THC.
His sisters agreed Mr Munt “liked a drink” but said this was far more than he would usually have and had no idea he had used cocaine.
Gloria Munt said: “It was for his best friend’s birthday’s. Normally he would only go out for two or three hours but that day he went out at 12 in the afternoon and stayed all day.
“Normally he would come home after the match but because it was his friend’s birthday they persuaded him to stay.”
Mr Munt was seen falling in the stream at around 11.45pm; before he was found the next morning shortly before 9.30am.
Laura Barroso described finding the body of Mr Munt in the stream next to Baird Close, Slough.
“I was travelling to work when I noticed a pair of trainers in the water; I doubled back and I thought it could be a body but I went back to check.
“A lady walked past with a dog. I discussed with her what I had seen then I called the police.”
A police search found a wallet with Mr Munt’s bank card details; no visible injuries were found apart from a cut to the front of his face. A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was drowning.
In her conclusions, Ms Jones said: “I think because of the level of intoxication he was disorientated; he wasn’t thinking straight and he probably inhaled the water which made things significantly worth for the lungs.
“The water was two feet deep in the deepest part and then fell down to inches further up.
“On the basis of all the evidence I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I conclude Mr Munt’s death was an accident and that’s the official conclusion today.”
The coroner was struck by the heroic actions of Mr Munt’s dog and added: “I read the family statement I could see Mr Munt was devoted to his dogs, we were all very touched watching the footage – there must have been a fantastic relationship. It was quite amazing actually.”
Gloria Munt paid tribute to her brother, stating: “He was fun loving and very outgoing. He would do anything to help family and friends.
She added the whole family was stunned by Jess’ efforts to save her owner. She is now cared for by Mr Munt’s niece. “That’s what broke our hearts, what she tried to do for him,” she said.
“Jess meant the world to him and he only had her for three months. For the dog to go to the those extremes is incredible.