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Mystery remains over teen's final hours

PUBLISHED: 11:58 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:02 25 August 2010

PARENTS: Ruth and Paul.

PARENTS: Ruth and Paul.

A DRUNK teenager got lost on Christmas Eve and wandered around a town centre alone before mysteriously drowning, an inquest was told.

TRAGIC: Joshua as he appeared on Christmas Eve.

A DRUNK teenager got lost on Christmas Eve and wandered around a town centre alone before mysteriously drowning, an inquest was told.

Joshua Beasley, 17, from Lee, went ice skating in Greenwich on Christmas Eve 2007, before drinking in The Gate Clock in Creek Road, with friends.

An inquest into the Thomas Tallis pupil's death at Southwark Coroners Court on Monday revealed the teen's final movements after leaving the JD Wetherspoon pub.

In statements, friends of the aspiring writer and dramatist said Mr Beasley got drunk on beer and a shot of vodka in the pub, then went off alone back to the ice rink.

Once there, the drunken teen staggered onto the rink before being asked to leave and again walked off shortly after 5pm.

Friend Edward Butterfield, who said Mr Beasley had experimented with cannabis and ecstasy before, witnessed the teenager falling over when he returned to the ice rink.

He said: "I helped Josh up, his voice was slurred. I remember that his eyes were really really big. I thought it was drink or drugs."

But Mr Beasley's mother Ruth Harrison told coroner Gail Elliman that he was not a regular drinker and aware of but not interested in drugs.

She added: "If we all look back to our own childhood times there was nothing exceptional about what he was doing."

A statement by friend Tobias Singer revealed that he rang Mr Beasley after he left the pub, but the teen was unable to say where he was or why he was lost.

Paul James Smith, of Claremont Road, Greenwich, is believed to be the last person to see Mr Beasley, on Creek Road bridge at about 6pm that night.

He told the court Mr Beasley was very drunk and wandering in and out of the road.

Mr Smith said: "I said 'Merry Christmas' and I asked him where he was going. I told him we were going to the pub.

"He said 'Merry Christmas' back and then said 'Can I come with you?'.

"I told him he couldn't come out with us. I was with my four-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. He asked again. There were no bad words said."

The witness warned Mr Beasley to stay out of the road and saw him make his way back towards Greenwich town centre, after which the trail goes cold.

Ms Harrison sat at the front of court with husband Paul Beasley, daughter Rowan, and Joshua's girlfriend, Charlotte Smith, from Bromley.

Mr Beasley, a member of the National Youth Theatre, was found lying face up in the Thames at the high water mark near River Road, Barking, on January 21.

The inquest was adjourned until September 2 when a pathologist will give evidence.

Outside court, Ms Harrison told the Times: "You go out for a drink and you end up dead. It just doesn't square up."

If you were in or around Greenwich town centre on Christmas Eve 2007 and can add to the evidence, call 020 8721 4868, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to remain

anonymous.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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