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Family of Newcastle student critical of university over death

Posted on: 2018-10-25 19:45:00

Edward Farmer
 Edward Farmer’s death was ‘utterly needless and wasteful’ his father said after the inquest. Photograph: family handout

The bereaved family of a student who died after a university society initiation ceremony have attacked the institution, claiming it has failed to get to grips with the problem.

Ed Farmer’s father, Jeremy, spoke after an inquest found the Newcastle University student died as a result of the “toxic effects” of excessive drinking at the event organised by its agricultural society.

Farmer said the family had been left “utterly underwhelmed and frustrated by the apparent inactivity of Newcastle University and its student union to get to the heart of the problem of student initiations”.

Speaking outside Newcastle upon Tyne’s civic centre after the inquest concluded, he said: “Ed’s is not the first utterly needless and wasteful death to come about through this potentially fatal practice.

“We have found it acutely painful to learn about the complete lack of understanding of all the students who organised and were there during that fateful event. However, we want these students to know that we are thankful for their attendance at this inquest, which we recognise has been a difficult process for them also.

“We wish them the very best for their respective futures.”

Ed Farmer was 20 when he died on 13 December 2016. The student, who was studying economics, was one of about 20 first-years to attend the event, with witnesses telling how “older students” ordered a round of 100 triple vodkas during a bar crawl.

He was later taken to the home of James Carr, the agricultural society’s chairman at the time, where he was found collapsed in the early hours.

During a four-day inquest, an expert witness told how excess alcohol had caused Ed Farmer to suffer a cardiac arrest, prompting brain damage and his eventual death.

Calling on the university to implement more forceful inductions on the dangers of alcohol for first-year students, the coroner Karen Dilks said Farmer had been “nervous” about attending the event and had to be carried to a Metro station as he was “extremely drunk”.

She said that a copy of her report would be made available to Newcastle University and its students’ union, as well as to Universities UK and the government. She told the family: “I extend my sincere condolences for your loss.”

Newcastle University’s registrar, Dr John Hogan, said Farmer’s death was a “great tragedy”, adding: “Since Ed’s death, we have already made a number of changes to the way we raise awareness among our students about the risks of alcohol and how they keep themselves and their fellow students safe.

“However, having listened to the evidence, we will be reflecting carefully on all that we have learnt at the inquest and looking at whether there are areas where we can improve on what we do.”



Kevin Rawlinson

Source: The Guardian

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