Mum of NekNominate victim ‘does not blame friend’

Isaac Richardson, who died after taking part in the NekNominate online drinking craze. Picture: PA

Isaac Richardson, who died after taking part in the NekNominate online drinking craze. Picture: PA

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THE mother of a young man who died after playing the NekNominate online drinking game wept as she said he would still be alive if he had not taken part in the craze.

But Melissa Richardson told the inquest into the death of her son Isaac, 20, that she did not blame the friend who had nominated him.

Mr Richardson collapsed unconscious after downing a 1.5-litre cocktail of alcohol at the hostel where he worked in Woolwich, south east London, in February. He died later in hospital.

His mother told Southwark Coroner’s Court: “We feel very strongly that it is no one’s fault.

“He would not have wanted anyone to be singled out or blamed for something that was his decision.

“I don’t blame his friend who nominated him or the friends who were with him that evening. It is a comfort to know that he was not alone.”

In a statement referred to in court, she added: “If it were not for this craze and his nomination, my son would still be alive.”

The NekNominate game involves participants filming themselves downing alcohol, nominating someone to continue the game, and posting the video on Facebook.

It became an online craze earlier this year after originating in Australia and has seen players consuming alcohol with dog food, engine oil and live goldfish.

The inquest heard that Mr Richardson consumed an estimated 30 units of alcohol when he drank a 1.5-litre mixture of rose wine, vodka, beer and whiskey from a pitcher “in one go” in two minutes after asking a friend to film him on a smartphone.

He collapsed and fell unconscious minutes later and died at hospital in the early hours of February 9 despite the efforts of paramedics and people at the hostel to resuscitate him.

Pathology tests found a “very high” amount of alcohol in his body which was “within the range to induce a coma”, the court heard.

The court heard Mr Richardson was one of three people nominated on Facebook by his friend Ross Burton.

In a statement read by the coroner, Mr Burton said: “I confirm that at no point did I tell anyone what to drink. The first time I found out about the drinks Isaac had drunk was through the papers.”

Detective Sergeant Roy Black said the death was not suspicious and no crime had been committed.

The court heard the nomination was made without any “pressure or force” and Mr Richardson took part “of his own volition”. Coroner Dr Andrew Harris said there was “no question of any unlawful action”.

Mr Richardson was found to have died of acute alcohol intoxication, and Dr Harris recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The coroner said of the “tragic” incident: “Mr Richardson chose to accept a NekNominate challenge and drank about one and a half litres in about two minutes, shortly afterwards collapsing unconscious.”

Dr Harris praised Mrs Richardson’s “courage and objectivity” in saying that she did not blame anyone for her son’s death.

After delivering the verdict, he asked whether she had any suggestions about any further action to highlight the potential risks of the NekNominate phenomenon.

She said: “It was my son’s decision to do what he did. He would not want me to use him as an example.”

Mr Richardson was a “very affectionate” former grammar school pupil of “great intellect”, the court heard.

He left school with “numerous As and Bs” but began to attend parties regularly and his mother said he was drinking heavily in the months before his death.

His mother said: “He worked really hard and played really hard. He would get silly drunk.”

Fighting back tears, she told the court: “I did get fed up with him but we never fell out. It just wasn’t in him to hold a grudge. “

Mrs Richardson said the Neknominate craze had reached its peak at a time when her son had “too much idle time and too little focus in his life”.

She told the court he was “susceptible to a dare” but he was “never one swayed by others” and he could resist peer pressure.

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