FAILURES by police contributed to the death of the greenkeeper at the prestigious Wentworth Golf Club, an inquest jury has ruled.

Surrey Police hit the headlines during the 12-day inquest into the death of 39-year-old John Byrne when a police inspector admitted he had given an order to his officers not to enter the River Thames where the victim was trapped in his van screaming for help.

Instead they had to watch from the bank as he drowned.

During the inquest the jury heard that soon after Mr Bryne died, his wife Cheri with whom he had lived in Shepperton, Surrey, gave birth to the couple's twin babies.

Mr Byrne had deliberately driven his vehicle into the river at Shepperton, Surrey, after drinking heavily although the coroner investigating his death ruled that the jury could not return a verdict of suicide.

However, after almost nine hours of deliberation, the jury reached a narrative verdict and blamed Surrey Police for a series of blunders, which contributed to the soon-to-be father of twins' drowning.

The inquest in Woking, Surrey had heard how a police sergeant had gone home from duty during the melee over missing Mr Byrne and had not handed over the incident to a colleague.

The jury also heard that the alarm over Mr Byrne, who had previously said he was going to drown himself in the Thames at Shepperton, was downgraded from a police response of one hour to no response at all.

The mistake meant no-one from Surrey Police was aware of the impending tragedy and no police response was sent despite a number of warning calls to the police 101 system.

During the inquest in Woking, Surrey the jury had heard from Inspector Gary Cross that eventually officers arrived at the riverbank.

Shocked, they watched helplessly as Mr Byrne cried for help to save him.

Insp Cross issued an order over the police radio that his team should not go into the water to try to save Mr Byrne, having made a decision that it was too dangerous in the dark and cold.

The jury did not comment in the verdict on his decision, but instead issued a rider to their narrative verdict that the actions of Surrey Police during the evening of December 8 2016 contributed to the father's death.

The jury foreman, in reading the verdict, said: "We find the medical cause of death to be drowning. On December 8, 2016, at around 8.20pm, John Byrne deliberately drove his van into the Thames, while under the influence of alcohol, which led to Mr Byrne drowning."

The jury then referred to the mental health care received by Mr Byrne from the Surrey and Borders Partnership Trust, where he was admitted on October 30, 2016.

Finally the jury foreman said: "The manner in which Surrey police responded to the first call in relation to Mr Byrne on December 8, and the calls following, may have made a possible contribution to Mr Byrne's death."

Explaining the reasons for the jury's finding, the foreman named: "The function of the ICAD (police computer system) which automatically downgrades calls meaning Mr Byrne's case not being reviewed until a later call from Mrs Cheri Byrne at 8pm.

"There was a lack of rationale being recorded on the ICAD log allowing staff to clearly understand the rationale behind decision-making.

"We also find that initial information passed to the police by the home treatment team was vague and hampered probable attempts to find his precise location."

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