A FORMER sailor with a passion for boats may have been examining a dinghy on his way home from a party when he fell into the water and drowned, an inquest heard.

A FORMER sailor with a passion for boats may have been examining a dinghy on his way home from a party when he fell into the Great Ouse and drowned, an inquest heard.

James Knight, 41, had been drinking all day with friends on Saturday, February 26, but was reported missing after failing to turn up for work the following Monday. His body was found in the water in the early hours of Tuesday, March 1.

Coroner Sam Bass recorded a verdict of accidental death by drowning, caused by alcohol intoxication.

Mr Knight, of Cambridge Road, Godmanchester, had been watching rugby and drinking with friends during the day, before attending a birthday party at Riverside Mill in the evening.

Friend Steve Atkin said Mr Knight had been drinking spirits at the party, but that he had left the party when it began to wind down.

Mr Atkin said Mr Knight had been in the Navy for several years, and was a boating enthusiast.

"I'm mildly suspicious he had been attracted by the dinghy that he was found under," said Mr Atkin. "He was never at the stage where anyone felt they had to look after him. He could often get drunk and be difficult, but he always had a homing instinct."

Dr Bass ruled out any third-party involvement, and said it was likely that Mr Knight had fallen in.