An apprentice plumber drowned in a canal after taking a "potentially lethal" dose of ketamine and combining it with alcohol in what a coroner called "chemical Russian Roulette".
Matt Dutton, 22, spent the evening of August 23, 2020 at Wigan's Oak Tree pub to watch the Champions League final with a group of friends, an inquest at Bolton Coroner's Court heard.
According to Mr Dutton's close friend Callum Jones, he arrived at around 6pm and throughout the course of the night drank approximately two pints of Carlsberg and three alcopops, Manchester Evening News reports.
Mr Jones claimed to have not seen Mr Dutton take any drugs but admitted: "I knew he'd taken something, he had too much energy and I could tell by his eyes."
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Pub licensee, Nicola Fishwick, said Mr Dutton was staggering and she took his car keys as she didn't want him driving home.
At around 10pm, Mr Dutton left the pub with his friend Michael Reardon and the pair started to walk down Belle Green Lane.
Mr Reardon said during the night they had both taken ketamine in Mr Dutton's car, which they'd taken together a "couple of times on weekends".
Asked to describe the effects of how ketamine makes you feel, Mr Reardon said: "Very drunk and very disorderly.
"It gives you a bit of a buzz. You like, black out when you mix it with alcohol."
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The pair eventually made their way to Manchester Road, passing driver Danielle Halliwell who stopped at a zebra crossing to let them pass.
She described Mr Dutton as: "walking like a robot, struggling to put one foot in front of the other."
Ms Halliwell noted that both men appeared to be incredibly drunk and appeared to not be speaking to each other, instead focussing on walking.
A police statement said the last sighting of Mr Dutton was at 10.25pm, heading towards the canal from Manchester Road, and the last activity from his phone was recorded at 10.56pm.
Mr Reardon said that he has no memory of leaving the pub and said that he tried to call Mr Dutton when he "came round" and realised he was no longer with him, shortly after 11pm.
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Greater Manchester Police carried out a search operation and spent 36 hours searching the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. His body was found close to Lock 79, Rose Bridge, on August 26.
Following a post mortem, pathologist Dr Emil Salmo recorded 'drowning' as the medical cause of death.
He said that there were no suspicious circumstances, no sign of third party involvement and no signs that Mr Dutton had attempted to climb out of the canal and failed.
A toxicology report prepared by Julie Evans stated that Mr Dutton had alcohol and a significant amount of ketamine in his system, adding that he could have died from the "direct toxicity" of the drug or from drowning as a result of altered behaviour.
He tested negative for all drugs other than ketamine.
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Mother Jacqueline Peet told the court that Mr Dutton was "popular" and a "joker", agreeing that her son "worked hard and played hard", but that she didn't know the extent of his drug use.
Father Mark Dutton added: "I knew that he experimented but I'd had some quite strong discussions about not doing it and he assured me that he didn't.
"He would look forward to the weekend after working hard in the week."
Recording a conclusion of accidental death, senior coroner for Manchester West, Timothy Brennand, said Mr Dutton "became incapacitated, confused and disorientated while trying to walk home, falling into the canal and drowning"
He added: "Taking any substances that have the potential to incapacitate, disorient or confuse you is akin to playing a game of chemical Russian roulette.
"Matthew had consumed enough ketamine which of itself was potentially lethal but even if the drug itself doesn't kill you, what it has the capacity to do is so incapacitating that you become unable to perform a simple task such as walking home.
"I daresay that the parent's message would be that use of ketamine, as far as their son is concerned, has led to this tragedy.
"If one person understands by reading the events that bring us together at this inquest, then at least some good will come out of it."
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