A GRANDMOTHER fell into the river and drowned yards from her home after secretly consuming alcohol, an inquest has heard.

Rochienne Pearce, also known as Longina Boczon, was more than two and half times the legal limit when she fell into the River Itchen outside her home, Fulling Mill in Easton Lane, on August 17, last year.

The 72-year-old was swept 200 yards along the river before she was discovered in the early hours of the following day.

An inquest at Winchester Coroner’s Court heard how Ms Pearce suffered from back problems which affected her mobility. She was taking medication for the pain.

On the night of her death Ms Pearce had spent the evening with her partner Colin Officer, before she went into the kitchen and he watched television.

Mr Officer said after he had finished watching the 10 o’clock news he went into the kitchen but she was not there and he began searching.

Her body was later discovered by family friend Christopher Netherton, around 200 yards away from her house.

He said: “It is probably the fastest stretch on the river there is and there had been rain the night before, it is a bit deeper and it is quite fast, with the problem with her leg and spine she probably found it quite difficult to stand up.”

It was noticed that her watch had stopped at 9.16pm, which Mr Pegg gave as the time she is likely to have fallen in the river.

It remains an “absolute mystery” why she fell but theories were aired during the inquest by friends and family, with Mr Officer saying she could have fallen over their small dogs.

A post mortem by pathologist Dr Belvinda Shoker, concluded that Ms Pearce drowned, with alcohol toxicity contributing.

Her daughter, Holly, said her mother always “had an issue” with drinking “but she got very good at hiding it”.

Holly said that a bottle of spirit was found in her mother's kitchen cupboard and alcohol in a coffee mug, which Ms Pearce had drunk in the hours before her death.

Mr Officer said that he did not see his partner consume any alcohol on the night of her death, adding: “In the months before she died as far as I know she didn’t take any alcohol because it didn’t agree with her medication but for some reason or another, she did take alcohol on the night she died.”

Area coroner Jason Pegg concluded that her death was an accident, saying: “The combination of that alcohol and medication would have impaired her to a certain extent in terms of her thinking and mobility."

He added that she was “intoxicated with alcohol and suffering from spinal problems, both of which affected her mobility”.