A British holidaymaker, Peter Nicholson, 29, died of alcohol poisoning after sharing four buckets of vodka and Red Bull during a 36-hour binge in Thailand, an inquest heard.
Engineer Peter Nicholson, had downed more than 20 bottles of lager, drank shots of Sambuca and Jack Daniels and cola during his first day of his trip to Thailand.
His consumption of the energy drink from the so-called ‘Thai buckets’ masked the effects of his alcohol intake – and he didn’t realise how he was drunk he was.
The father-of-one was found dead the following morning in his hotel room in Bangkok when friends failed to wake him up. Tests showed he was more than four times over legal drink-drive limit.
The Thai buckets, an infamous part of the country’s Full Moon Parties, are filled with spirits, ice and a mixer of choice and usually drunk through straws – making it almost impossible to keep track of the amount of booze consumed.
An inquest into Mr Nicholson’s death heard that the father, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, would regularly holiday in Thailand and had built up a network of friends in the South-East Asian country.
On May 31 last year he booked a last-minute trip to the country having already visited Thailand just weeks earlier.
He had his first pint in the departure lounge at Manchester Airport while waiting to board a flight to Qatar – then began downing cans of lager and Jack Daniels with coke during the seven hour flight.
He eventually arrived in Bangkok on a connecting flight but then went out that evening with his friends.
His friend Daniel Wilson told the inquest: ‘We were in contact on the day I was going away and the others had already set off. He said he was going to ring up and book a flight now.
‘He said, “come round to mine and bring your suitcase”. We had some pizza and a pint before we got on the plane. On the first flight to Qatar we had four small cans of lager. We also had four mini bottles of Jack Daniels with coke.
‘Peter slept most of the second journey. He was drinking a lot of water when he was waking up. We had five or six bottles of lager in the afternoon when we arrived.’
He said the pair then went sightseeing and both drank an iced tea before they got ready to go out for the night.
The father-of-one, pictured left with his friend Daniel Wilson during his trip, was found dead the following morning in his hotel room in Bangkok when friends failed to wake him up
From around 7.30pm Mr Nicholson drank more than 20 bottles of strong lager and consumed shots of Sambuca.
Mr Wilson returned early to his hotel but Mr Nicholson and two other friends stayed out and shared the buckets of vodka and Red Bull before returning at 1am.
Back at the hotel Mr Nicholson was said to be ‘laughing and joking’ in his bedroom and ordered food.
He was found dead at 9am the following day by Mr Wilson. The group had planned to move on to the party town of Pattaya.
Mr Wilson said: ‘I didn’t want to believe what was happening. It was really cold in the room as the air con was on really low. I tickled Peter’s feet to try and get his attention but his feet were really cold. He just looked asleep.’
An inquest into Mr Nicholson’s death heard he would regularly holiday in Thailand and had built up a network of friends in the South-East Asian country. He is pictured right on an earlier trip to the country
Further tests showed he had 452mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine. Deaths from alcohol toxicity are expected at levels of 350 mg.
The hearing was told Mr Nicholson was ‘not a big drinker’ and toxicologist Julie Evans said he may not have known just how drunk he was because of the combination of vodka and Red Bull.
She said: ‘There are some concerns around the process of people consuming vodka and Red Bull. It is a stimulant. It can counter the effects of alcohol and people consume more alcohol not realising how intoxicated they are. It is called “wide-eyed drunk”.
‘When you mix Red Bull with vodka you are risking masking the effect of alcohol on the body. In the absence of any other pathological finding, the most likely cause of death is alcohol toxicity.
‘If he was not a heavy drinker then the risk is higher at a lower concentration. He would have just gone to sleep and not woken up.’
Mr Nicholson’s mother Irene said: ‘He was a hard-working lad and very popular. He kept himself fit and would run regularly. He enjoyed going on holidays and had been to Thailand a number of times.
‘He did like to have a drink but wasn’t a heavy drinker. On the Saturday he asked if I could take his daughter. He said he was going away for two weeks and asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She said, “just surprise me dad”.’
Recording a conclusion of accidental death, coroner Alison Mutch told Mr Nicholson’s family: ‘A significant amount of alcohol was consumed during the course of the day. He clearly consumed in excess of 20 bottles of lager and probably significantly more than that.
‘In addition it is likely he had at least one shot of Sambuca and also vodka mixed with Red Bull. The alcohol readings are very high and carry a high risk of death. This must have been a dreadful event in your lives and very hard for us to imagine how awful it must be to wave somebody off and to see them in good health knowing they have gone on holiday to Thailand.
‘Their intention was to have a good time and everybody appeared to be having a good time and enjoying themselves but to end in such a very tragic way must be extremely difficult for all of you.’
After the hearing, Peter’s sister Joanne, 31, added: ‘He was very outgoing and almost a father-figure to me, even though I’m older. He was a brilliant dad.
‘He loved Thailand and even had his own little sort-of family over there and they all loved him. He used to go there whenever he got a chance to get away. Drinking is what people do when they go away, you just don’t expect anything like this. We all think twice now.’