A lack of immediate action by police officers probably contributed to the drowning of Marcel Wochna in the River Itchen, a jury has found. 

After two days of deliberations, the jury at the teenager's inquest ruled that the 15-year-old had entered the water feet first to evade arrest on November 8, 2021. 

Jurors found there was "insufficient immediate action taken by the officers" which probably contributed to his death.

"Police officers had an inadequate knowledge of the working near water policy," they found. 

"His death was contributed to by neglect," they said.


Area Coroner Jason Pegg outlined a number of concerns about the case which he will be presenting to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary in a prevention of future deaths report. 

He said there was a "lack of awareness" of the practice for rescuing someone from the water which he said members of the public should be aware of too. 

He said he has concerns over the officers' use of handcuffs to restrain Marcel's friend moments before Marcel jumped into the River Itchen. 

The concerns will now be laid out in a letter which the force must respond to with details of any actions it will take to address these issues.

The jury previously heard how Marcel and a friend had snuck out on the evening of November 7 to smoke cannabis. 

Daily Echo: Marcel Wochna died in the River Itchen.Marcel Wochna died in the River Itchen. (Image: Newsquest)

Officers later heard from his mother that she thought he was upstairs in bed at the time and that he had been grounded prior to this incident.

The boys then took a wooden boat across the River Itchen to Cobden Marina where they were seen pulling down security lights and throwing them into the river. 

Witnesses called the police with Constables William Chan and Keely Miles arriving soon after. 

They found the boys crouched down in a boat and took out Marcel's friend first, handcuffing him behind his back.

But while they attempted to get Marcel in handcuffs, the 15-year-old managed to break free of Constable Chan's grip and jumped into the water.

The officers claimed Marcel jumped forwards into the water - evidence that the jury would later refuse ruling that he went in feet first.

A major search was launched involving 50 police officers, the coastguard, search and rescue teams, firefighters and paramedics. 


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However, Marcel's body was not found until the afternoon of November 9, 2021, at Smith's Quay. 

He was found face down in the water with his backpack having snagged on a pontoon. 

A pathologist at the time found that his lungs had been water-logged and the cause of death was given as drowning.

PC Chan, who revealed that he is not a strong swimmer, later told the jury how Marcel had been swimming away "confidently" and that "he wasn't struggling.

"At that point, I wouldn't consider a risk of drowning," he said.

When questioned on whether he should have focussed on Marcel over his friend that night, PC Chan added: "On reflection, absolutely. He has died. I don't want that on my conscience.

"We might have all ended up in the water and the four of us might not have been here.

"You don't want things like this to happen so of course if you could do it again, you'd do it differently."

Professor of physiology at the University of Portsmouth, Michael Tipton, was called as an expert witness for his work on studying the effects of cold water on the body. 

The jury was previously told Marcel had been seen by the police swimming away after taking a large gasp, which the professor said is "just about the worst thing to do".

Marcel was wearing Nike grey jogging bottoms, Jordan trainers, a dark jumper with a hood on it and a dark-coloured rucksack when he was found. 

Professor Tipton suggested that he had probably suffered from cold water shock having entered the 12-degree water and swam a maximum of 30 metres before becoming incapacitated. 

Professor Tipton added: "With that amount of clothing, compounded by the disruption of the cold shock response, I can imagine Marcel getting exhausted in a very short period of time."

His body was found by Andrew Watson who was walking down towards a friend's boat when he spotted the backpack. 

He said he "started running down the pontoon to approach the body with the intention of trying to save life".