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Newcastle Student died after 'initiation style' social which involved 'apple bobbing in urine and alcohol'


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A Newcastle student died after taking part in a boozy bar crawl where a round in one venue included 100 triple vodkas, an inquest has heard.

Edward Farmer was on an “initiation style” bar crawl organised by the Agricultural Society but died in hospital after being found unconscious in a hallway.

The 20 year old had five times the legal drink-drive limit of alcohol in his blood a post-mortem examination found.

Mr Farmer, originally from Leicester, was taking part in an event which saw students apple bobbing in urine and alcohol, having their heads shaved and drinking out of a pig's head.

Photo: Pexels

While providing evidence at the inquest on Monday (October 22), witness and intensive care consultant Dr Peter Benjamin Messer was asked whether he thought the outcome would have been different had Mr Farmer arrived at the hospital earlier. “Had he come into hospital prior to that (cardiac) arrest my opinion is the outcome would have been different,” he said.

A Facebook invitation for the event told students to bring “a 70cl bottle of hard spirits, some money, a Metro ticket, swimming goggles, a Kinder Egg and some lubrication”, Coroner Karen Dilks told the inquest.

While all members of the Agricultural Society were invited to the social, the event was primarily aimed at initiating first year students into the society through a series of ‘pranks’  throughout the night.

James Carr, who was the chairman of the university's Agricultural Society and a second-year student at the time, was also called as a witness yesterday (October 22). “If a student didn’t want to drink he wouldn’t have been forced,” Carr told the inquest.

Explaining some of the planned activities for the night, he went on to say: “the plan was for them (first year students) to crawl to the garage, have their heads shaved and take shots of vodka from a pig’s head, as had happened to us the previous year.”

Initiation ceremonies often include a series of 'pranks' that first year students are required to do as part of being welcomed into a team, however, they’ve been banned by many universities - including Newcastle - due to the humiliating and degrading pranks as well as the high intake of alcohol that is usually drunk.

On their website the University of Newcastle state:

“Initiation ceremonies encourage the following negative behaviours:

  • forcing participants to behave in a way that might reasonably be perceived as humiliating, demeaning or degrading;

  • forcing participants to drink excessive amounts of alcohol or to take other substances (illegal or otherwise);

  • inciting participants to behave in a way that would bring the University into disrepute”


It is also made clear that “anyone found to have organised or participated in an initiation ritual will be subject to disciplinary action”.

Yesterday, Mr Carr explained he first became aware Mr Farmer was “not in a very good state” on the Metro home, he was then taken to a house on Sanderson Road where he was placed in the hallway. As Mr Carr could hear him “snoring audibly loudly” he assumed the 20 year old was sleeping, however, the ‘snoring’ was likely to have been a sign he was seriously unwell and would indicate “partial obstruction of the airways”, the inquest heard.

At 4.30 am Mr Carr was woken by another student, he discovered Mr Farmer unresponsive in the hallway and subsequently drove the student to the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Speaking at the inquest today (October 23) via video link, witness Guy Barker, who was a second year student at the time, said: “It was an organised night out when you’re encouraged to drink a lot and eat various things- foul tasting things like pots of mustard.”

He also told the inquest how there was “apple bobbing in urine and alcohol”.

The inquest continues.


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