Tragic Wigan dad who died three years after serious injury told police he was attacked by his friend during stag do

A popular dad found seriously injured in an empty swimming pool during a stag trip told police he had been assaulted by a friend, an inquest heard.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 6:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 7:06 pm

Andrew Openshaw, known as Andy, suffered life-changing injuries in the incident in Tenerife on January 31, 2014 and the community rallied round to raise £30,000 for him to be flown back to the UK.

An inquest began today at Bolton Coroner's Court to look into the circumstances surrounding his death three years later, on July 15, 2017.

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Inquest scheduled into death of dad-of-two badly injured during stag do

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Andy Openshaw

It heard Mr Openshaw was interviewed by police at Leigh Infirmary nine months after the incident, when he could give a thumbs up or shake his head to answer "yes" and "no" to questions.

He was asked if he remembered what happened that night in Tenerife and confirmed that he did. He said it was not an accident, but that he was assaulted.

When Det Con Andrew Partington, from Wigan CID, went through the names of people on the stag do, Mr Openshaw indicated that his friend Lee Unsworth was the person who had attacked him.

In further questions during the 16-minute interview, Mr Openshaw said Mr Unsworth had punched him to the back of his head, kicked him and pushed him in the pool.

The inquest also heard from Mr Openshaw's mother Jacqueline Openshaw, who said she asked her son who had attacked him and he wrote "Lee Uns", meaning Mr Unsworth, on two occasions on the same day,

And his wife Laura Openshaw said he would regularly spell out the words "ring" and "police" because he remembered what had happened.

But Mr Unsworth told the inquest that he did not assault his friend or push him into the empty swimming pool in Playa de las Americas.

He described Mr Openshaw, 34, as a "good friend and best mate" and said they met at the age of four when they attended St Paul's Primary School in Westleigh, before going on to Westleigh High School together.

He said he did not remember much of what happened that night, after drinking during the day and evening, and his last memory was "being in the toilet in one of the bars".

The next thing he recalled was jumping into the pool to help Mr Openshaw and breaking his heel, before passing out and being woken again when emergency services arrived.

He said he did not know how Mr Openshaw had got in the pool and that it was "instinct" to jump in to help him.

But concerns were raised during the inquest about "inconsistencies" in Mr Unsworth's accounts of what happened that night

He told Spanish police that they had mistakenly gone to the pool thinking it was the hotel where Mr Openshaw and the rest of the stag party were staying, while he reportedly gave other accounts to other people. The court heard at times he was guessing what must have happened as he did not recall.

The group of men had flown from Manchester Airport to Tenerife on January 31, 2014 for a stag do ahead of the wedding of Peter Moore.

They arrived late in the day, checked into their hotel and met in a bar next to the pool at the hotel where everyone was staying apart from Mr Unsworth, who was staying at an apartment on the island owned by his father.

The group went to several bars and were drinking throughout the evening, with Mr Openshaw described as being "merry".

At one point he and Mr Unsworth were seen talking to two women, described in court as possibly being sex workers, and the four of them walked off together towards the hotel compound where the men were later found.

Mr Unsworth said he did not remember these women but raised the possibility of the pair being mugged, as he did not have any money when he was found.

Coroner Timothy Brennand said there were four possible scenarios surrounding what happened to Mr Openshaw - that he jumped into the pool to swim without realising there was no water; that there was an element of horseplay between him and Mr Unsworth which led to him falling in; a physical altercation with Mr Unsworth which led to him falling into the pool; and that he had gone to the dark, secluded compound with an unidentified third person who set upon the pair and pushed him into the pool.

After the incident, Mr Openshaw was taken to hospital in Tenerife with a fractured skull and his friends and family were told he could have just 48 hours to live.

But they managed to raise the money for him to be flown back to the UK to be treated at the Walton Centre in Liverpool.

It was there that doctors raised the possibility of him having been assaulted, as he had injuries including fractures to his eye socket, jaw and finger.

Mr Openshaw, who had worked as a refrigeration engineer, was also cared for at Leigh Infirmary before adaptations were made at the family home in Westleigh for him to return.

He had surgery for a bowel problem in April 2017, but later developed pneumonia and died at Salford Royal Hospital on July 15, 2017.

Home Office pathologist Dr Naomi Carter carried out a post-mortem examination and concluded Mr Openshaw died from chronic complications of the head injury.

She reported he had a "diving injury" caused by banging his head in the pool and while his other injuries could have been caused by that, she could not rule out that he had been assaulted.

The court heard police in Tenerife had ruled Mr Openshaw's injuries to be the result of an accident, but further investigations were done by officers from Greater Manchester Police.

It became a homicide investigation after his death and a file was prepared, but a review by the Crown Prosecution Service found there was not enough evidence to secure a conviction.

Officers wanted to go to Tenerife to investigate what happened, but were refused permission by the Spanish authorities, the inquest heard.

Proceeding.

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