THE death of Plymouth teenager Jordan Cobb who jumped off the Torpoint Ferry “for a £100 bet” was ‘accidental’, a Plymouth coroner has ruled.
Jordan, 16, died on New Year’s Eve after jumping from the ferry while travelling to Torpoint with friends.
It took 14 days to find his body, and the inquest today heard Jordan was identified by his tattoos and the earphones attached to his mobile phone.
The inquest also heard from two witnesses who said they heard from one of Jordan’s friends that he had dived into the Hamoaze from the ferry as part of a £100 bet.
Coroner Ian Arrow heard reports from several witnesses including ferry worker Philip Barsley who was working on the Torpoint side of the route on January 16. He had been working near the slipway at around 4.50pm when he saw a body stuck on the chains linked to one of the ferries. He knew of the disappearance of Jordan on New Year’s Eve and immediately suspected it was the former Stoke Damerel College student.
An MoD launch was called for and the body removed from the Hamoaze and taken to Devonport dockyard.
Despite the body being in what police described as a “poor state of decomposition” officers were able to positively identify 16-year-old Jordan from a number of tattoos, one which referred to Jordan’s grandfather and another which was a five-pointed star on his ankle, his clothes including new training shoes and earphones which were linked to an HTC mobile phone in a trouser pocket.
A post mortem found Jordan, from Efford Lane in Efford, had drowned and had then been submerged for a considerable amount of time.
In addition toxicology report found Jordan had 196mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood which the pathologist Dr Harmse said was likely to have resulted in the impairment of Jordan’s “motor and cognitive functions”. As a comparative measure, he noted how the drink drive limit was 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, putting Jordan at more than twice the drink drive limit.
Friends had informed investigators that Jordan had been drinking at a house party prior to boarding the ferry.
His friend, who hand known Jordan for a number of years, told he inquest he had drunk around eight cans of Carlsberg and a bottle of Jagermeister in an hour-and-a-half. He said he did not know how much Jordan had consumed.
A group of them had decided to head to Torpoint “for more drinking” and walked to the ferry port, boarding at around 9pm.
He said some had sat by the vending machines but “as the ferry approached the Torpoint side, we all moved to the front side of the ferry so we could get off.”
He said they were stood by a set of double doors which led to the car parking area.
He said: “We were all stood around the area and Jordan Cobb said something like 'shall I jump off?' I can't remember what brought this conversation up.
“We were all laughing and not taking the conversation seriously. I walked towards Jordan and he said to me ‘hold my bag a second’.
He said Jordan then climbed on top of a barrier and dived overboard.
“I saw him go under the water and re-emerge. Then I lost sight of Jordan and we began to panic.”
Evidence from two other witnesses was read to the inquest – Holly Gynn and Nicola Thomas/
The women were heading to Plymouth from the Torpoint side and arrived to see the frantic activity of the emergency services as the ferry came into port.
Ms Gynn said she recognised a neighbour’s son called Jack along with other boys in deep distress. The teenage boys, accompanied by the two women, were shepherded to Torpoint police station and began to call their parents.
As the two women returned to the ferry, they saw one of the boys, run after them, crying.
Her witness report noted: “He was crying ‘It’s my fault. I was meant to do it. We all bet £100. Jordan jumped off instead of me’.”
She said Nathan refused to repeat his claim to a nearby PCSO, but after being taken aside by her he repeated ‘it was a bet, we bet £100 he wouldn’t jump off. I was meant to do it. It’s my fault he is dead.'
Ms Thomas's recollection matched her friend's, with her noting the boy's distressed admission.
Det Con Mike Lugger said police inquiries was unable to clarify the reason Jordan went into the water, adding: “whether it was a bet or a prank, we can’t say”, but revealed that enhanced CCTV footage clearly showed the teen diving off the side of the ferry.
Coroner Ian Arrow said: “We can't be certain why he dived off, whether for bravado or some other reason, for a lark or prank or because he was slightly inebriated.”
As a result, the coroner informed the family he would record a verdict of accidental death, as Jordan’s death “wasn't an outcome people expected.”
Mr Arrow recognised the large number of friends and family who had attended the inquest, which made it “quite clear that Jordan was well liked and highly regarded”.
Jordan's family did not wish to comment after the inquest.