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Jamie Smith’s father blasts club after tragic drowning

By River Reporter Feb 21, 2013

The father of a KU student who drowned in the Thames has condemned the club industry.

Sofia Capel

Jamie Smith, 19, who studied medical biochemistry, was found dead in the Thames the morning after he had been to Bacchus Late Bar in Kingston with his two housemates.

Father, David Smith, said the staff at Bacchus had kicked his son out for being too drunk. Jamie was then refused entry back into the bar to get his friends to walk him home.

He said: “The club industry seem happy to take the money of the young people who drink at their club and not take responsibility for what happens to them after. They could have called a cab, got his friends or even called the police.”

It’s so hard for us

When Jamie’s father and stepmother heard that he had gone missing they drove from their home in Essex to Surbiton to try to find him, but were told by police that he had drowned. The police are not treating the death as suspicious.

Mr Smith, who last saw his son only a week before his death on January 19, said: “It’s so hard for us, especially since we don’t know exactly what happened that night.”

He described his son as “very kind, very intelligent and with a good sense of humour”. He said: “All through school, all through his life, no one ever had a bad word to say about him.”

He was one of my best mates

Jordan Clayton, who lived with Jamie and also studied medical biochemistry, said: “He was one of my best mates in Kingston. We hung out pretty much all the time.

“He was a great course mate who enjoyed the modules and he would always help me out if I struggled on certain questions.”

Mark Fouché, bar manager of award-winning Bacchus Late Bar, was unable to comment due to the ongoing investigation.

On April 28 2011, KU law student Niall Pawsey drowned in the Thames after he and his friends were thrown out of The Kingston Mill pub.

Something needs to be done

Soon after, the then KUSU president, Christopher Dingle, launched a campaign for River safety together with the Student Union.

He said: “We didn’t realise how dangerous it was to go in the river, especially if you’re drinking, and I didn’t realise how many people had died from drowning in the Thames, so it was like an alarm bell for me, something needed to be done.”

The campaign involved plans to spread awareness of the dangers of swimming in the Thames and has urged the local council to secure planning permission and funding for signage, including location codes that would assist the RNLI in responding to an emergency.

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