December 8, 2021 1.09 pm

Man drowns at Doddington Hall stag party after cocaine and alcohol use, inquest hears

He was believed to have been “heavily intoxicated”

A man drowned in the estate lake at one of the UK’s most beautiful Elizabethan halls after consuming “significant” amounts of booze and cocaine while on his stag party with friends.

An inquest heard Shailesh Ishwar Chauhan, 32, had spoken to his fiancee on the phone at 9am on June 12 this year when he said he was near a lake – and she believed he was “heavily intoxicated”.

Mr Chauhan, from Chelmsford, Essex, was later seen swimming in the water at Doddington Hall, near Lincoln.

Staff went to check on their guest but there was no sign of him.

His friends reported him as missing and police divers found his body on June 13.

A post mortem examination found the cause of death was drowning as a result of cocaine use and “high alcohol intake”.

Acting senior coroner for Lincolnshire Paul Smith recorded a conclusion that market researcher Mr Chauhan’s death was misadventure.

Mr Smith said: “Shailesh Ishwar Chauhan was confirmed dead on June 13, 2021 at Doddington Hall, Doddington, Lincoln as a consequence of drowning on a background of alcohol use and the ingestion of cocaine.

“He had travelled to Doddington Hall on June 11 with a group of friends for his stag weekend.

“On the evening on June 11 he and his friends had a party, during which he consumed a significant quantity of alcohol and ingested a significant quantity of cocaine.

“He was last seen by his friends at breakfast time on June 12, at which time he was intoxicated and under the influence of cocaine.

“He spoke on the telephone to his fiancee until approximately 9am when he described being near a lake.

“She formed the view that he was heavily intoxicated.

“He was later seen by passers-by near to the water’s edge and subsequently to be swimming in the lake, although he did not appear to be in any distress.

“When staff visited the lake to check up on him he was not visible and could not be found within a search of the surrounding area.

“He was reported missing by his friends later that day.

“On June 13 an underwater search of the lake located his body.”

Mr Smith, who held the inquest at the Myle Cross Centre, in Lincoln, added: “On balance of probabilities, whilst intoxicated and under the influence of drugs he made the conscious decision to swim in the lake where, as a consequence of his condition, he drowned.”

The owner of Doddington Hall in Lincoln was appointed as the new High Sheriff of Lincolnshire in April.

Claire Birch, who has lived at Doddington Hall with her husband James since 2006, made her declaration in a small turnover ceremony in the gardens of the hall.

Built between 1593 and 1600, Doddington Hall and Gardens are open to the public, with facilities for private tours and school visits. Summer concerts and occasional exhibitions are held in the Long Gallery. Other businesses have been developed on the estate such as the sale of Christmas trees, weddings, a Cycle shop with cafe and a farm shop selling local produce.

In 2020 the Hall was featured on an episode of “An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates” on the Smithsonian Channel and Amazon Prime.

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