Student died after fall from college digs roof

Kieran Keel

Kieran Keel

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

AN Oxford University student is believed to have fallen to his death from a college bedroom roof after a night out drinking, an inquest heard yesterday.

Kieran Keel, 20, was believed to have been drunk and smoking a cigarette on a roof just outside his bedroom window when he slipped, falling about five storeys.

Three other Brasenose College students heard a bang, but he was not found until the next morning on Friday, February 21, outside his Frewin Annexe accommodation block, in St Michael’s Street, by a housekeeper.

Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard second-year Spanish and history student Mr Keel, who was using crutches after spraining his ankle the previous weekend while playing for the Oxford University Lancers American Football Club, had been drinking in Oxford city centre with team-mates.

The coroner heard how he later met up with his girlfriend India Hill and they walked back to his accommodation after he was told to leave by bouncers at The Bridge nightclub in Hythe Bridge Street as he was stumbling walking down stairs.

In a statement read out by the coroner, Miss Hill said he seemed “very drunk” and she left his room at about 2.30am.

He was not seen again until housekeeper Gillian Walker found his body on the ground directly below his window about four hours later.

A post-mortem examination showed high alcohol levels in his blood at the time of his death and that he died from multiple injuries, most likely instantly.

Other students told police he was known to lean out of his Velux roof window, which was open, to smoke. Speaking at the inquest, Detective Constable Justin Walsh said grazes on Mr Keel’s body suggested he had been sitting on the roof to smoke when he slipped.

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He said: “He was on the roof as opposed to the window. I would suggest he was past the window edge.

“I’m unable to state why he came to fall on the floor. However, there were no suspicious circumstances or contributing factors other than the fact he was under alcohol influence at the time of his death.

“It is strongly assumed he was smoking from the window, which would have been a reason for him to be leaning out.”

After his death, Mr Keel, originally from Emsworth in Hampshire, was described as a “widely-loved and greatly-admired” student by Junior Common Room president Henry Zeffman.

A statement at the time of his death by the American Football Club said: “His friendly confidence, winning smile, determination and desire to put the team before himself was an inspiration.”

Brasenose College principal, Prof Alan Bowman, said yesterday: “The college remains shocked and saddened by Kieran’s death.

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“This tragic event has taken from us an active and popular young man.

“The extent of this loss was clearly demonstrated by the number of friends and family who attended Kieran’s funeral in the University Church of St Mary’s in March.”

  • Verdict: Assistant coroner Nicholas Graham recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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