York river death: Family told they "may never know" how man found in River Ouse three weeks after going missing came to his death

The family of a York man whose body was found in the River Ouse three weeks after he was last seen has been told they may never know how he came about his death.

Joseph Rainham's body was found in the River Ouse three weeks after he was last seen.
Joseph Rainham's body was found in the River Ouse three weeks after he was last seen.

Joseph Rainham, 35, was last seen in the early hours of October 5 2019.

He had been drinking at a friend’s house in Lincoln Street, in the Leeman Road area of York but never got into a taxi that was called for him after leaving the house.

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The road is around a two minute walk from the banks of the River Ouse.

Mr Rainham, who lived in the Holgate area of York, was reported missing by family members on October 11.

Two weeks later, on October 26, a passer-by spotted a body floating in the Ouse near Lendal Bridge in York city centre.

The body was recovered by emergency services and was later confirmed to be that of Mr Rainham, an inquest at York’s Merchant Taylor’s Hall heard on Tuesday.

Toxicology reports showed Mr Rainham’s body had three times the drink-driving limit of alcohol, and assistant coroner Jonathan Leach hypothesised that he may have entered the Ouse in a drunk and disorientated state.

But a post-mortem report showed the cause of death to be inconclusive, and said Mr Rainham could have died from hypothermia, cold water shock or from drowning.

The inquest heard Mr Rainham, a chef, had presented at his doctors, the Priory Medical Group, with low mood in the weeks before his death, and had told his GP he wanted to “jump in the river”.

But following a referral to York’s mental health crisis team, Mr Rainham was not deemed as high-risk, and no further action was taken although he was given the crisis team’s emergency phone number.

Mr Rainham’s family questioned police officer Stephen Eyres at the inquest about whether there could have been foul play in Mr Rainham’s death, and if blotchy marks found on his neck could be indication that he may have been strangled.

They had previously said in media interviews that they believed he may have been murdered.

But DS Eyres said there was no evidence to suggest he had come by his death by anything other than an accident.

They also asked why Mr Rainham’s phone number left the family WhatsApp group chat after he died, and DS Eyres said he did not know how that could have happened.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, assistant coroner Jonathan Leach said: “The cause of death is given as immersion in water. Regretfully, I suspect we will never know.

“If anybody had seen Joe after he was last seen, they haven’t come forward.

“I offer my condolences to the family in respect of their loss.”