Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Drunk teen's death prompts high-rise warning

Dushan Saddlier Pouao died in a fall in July 2010. Photo / Facebook
Dushan Saddlier Pouao died in a fall in July 2010. Photo / Facebook

A drunk teenager's deadly eight-storey fall from a Wellington apartment building has prompted a warning for suburban youths to be aware of the risks of high-rise buildings.

Coroner Ian Smith has found Dushan Saddlier Pouao, 18, died of blunt force injuries after he accidentally fell from the Soho apartment complex in central Wellington.

The Porirua teenager had been drinking heavily with friends who were partying at an eighth-floor apartment on the night of July 3, 2010.

His friends assumed he had gone to town but his body was later found in the alley between the complex and an adjacent car park building the following morning.

One witness described seeing Mr Pouao being encouraged to step across the gap between the two buildings earlier in the night.

At least three partygoers had done so throughout the night but one admitted he would not have done so if sober.

Coroner Smith noted some Soho tenants had been climbing between the two buildings, from a public walkway on the eighth floor, as a short cut into town - a practice that has since been curbed by a security fence erected by the body corporate.

He noted the gap between the buildings was only 75cm at its narrowest point, but it was eight floors above the ground.

Detective Inspector Paul Basham, who investigated the death, sounded a warning at the inquest.

"He wondered whether New Zealand youth, the majority of who are brought up in orthodox single-level detached suburban houses, are sufficiently aware of the inherent risks associated with living in multi-storey inner-city apartment buildings.

"The potential issue was arguable exacerbated by the addition of alcohol and peer group pressure."

The inquest was told the group of friends had brought a 24-box of beer to the party. They later went out on two occasions to buy another box of beer, a box of RTDs, and a bottle of bourbon and a mixer.

A post-mortem examination found Mr Pouao had drunk more than two and a half times the legal blood alcohol limit.

Coroner Smith said a law change, restricting the opening hours of liquor outlets, had been passed since Mr Pouao's death.

"However it still leaves, in my view, a staggering amount of facilities within a city the size of Wellington supplying alcohol to the public. I believe that this is a matter that needs continual monitoring."

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 23 Sep 2014 02:21:08 Processing Time: 940ms