Scottish soldier dove 70 feet from hotel balcony after being pepper sprayed outside a strip club
A Scottish soldier accidentally plunged 70 feet to his death from the balcony of a seventh-floor hotel in Poland after being pec, a coroner ruled yesterday.
While on a six-month deployment to Poland, Corporal Ryan Lovatt participated in a military-sponsored trip to Warsaw to learn about WWII and lay a wreath for his 75th birthday.
Arrived for the two-day trip on July 31, 2019, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer toured Warsaw’s Old Town with his army colleagues before taking a guided tour of the Old Town Palace, Castle of Warsaw and the museum.
Going against the ‘four can rule’, the army guys went to a cocktail bar in the evening, drinking beers and Jagerbombs before heading to the Golden Moon strip club, learned the court.
After an argument, the bouncers threw pepper spray and started shooting at the soldiers, who all left.
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After avoiding the first round of pepper spray, Ryan, 25, and his friend Lance Corporal Tommy Jackson returned to the strip club to enjoy a karaoke night and ordered a round of tequila shots.
However, the bouncers quickly swooped down on the couple, managing to hit Ryan in the eye with the “strong” spray, leaving him visually impaired, the coroner heard, sitting in Oxford.
Speaking of the “painful” pepper spray, Staff Sergeant Gary Horsburgh said, “If I’m being honest, it ruined us. The Polish pepper spray physically burned our skin and it got in our eyes, we were struggling. “
Shedding a tear over the video link, L Cpl Jackson said: ‘These bouncers weren’t your average British bouncers with licenses, they were normal guys outside the bar.
“They didn’t show any ID, they were dressed in civilian clothes. Ryan said his eyes stung. I helped Ryan get in the cab, he said his eyes hurt and he couldn’t see.
“It was dark, I guided him to his room, I laid Ryan on his bed and he was still holding his eyes.
“We hugged and said goodnight, he thanked me for helping him and that was the last time I saw him.”
The court learned how he was captured on CCTV that at 4:09 a.m. Ryan, from West Dunbartonshire, fell from the balcony on the seventh floor of the City Comfort Hotel.
Senior Investigator Staff Sergeant Stephen Cook said: “We assumed he went out to get some fresh air, leaned against the net, which gave way and fell. through.”
Yesterday, pathologist Dr Russell Delaney confirmed Ryan died of injuries to his chest, abdomen and pelvis after the fall, where he also fractured his spine, arm and ribs.
During the autopsy, the pathologist found that Ryan had drunk three times the limit of drink driving, which allegedly affected his balance, coordination and caused poor judgment.
The consultant forensic scientist confirmed the soldier’s injuries were ‘impossible to survive’, before his body was repatriated to Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.
The court heard that Staff Sergeant Horsburgh should have designated someone to be a “watchman” to stay sober overnight and should have enforced a four drink rule and a midnight curfew.
Coroner Darren Salter has confirmed an accidental death verdict.
In his closing remarks, Mr Salter said: “This is basically a case involving an accidental fall in the context of poisoning and also the effects of pepper spray on Ryan Lovatt.
“To add to that, he didn’t know the room and the balcony layout, it was his first night at the hotel.”
The coroner will write a report to prevent future deaths involving a person taking on the supervisory role of being sober during an outing, stressing the importance of this role and ensuring that it is enforced.
Ryan, who followed his veteran father Colin into the military, received a full military consignment to Clydebank Crematorium after his death.
In a moving tribute, the family said, “Ryan was born into the military. He was a funny, caring boy, sometimes shy, always cheeky … he was smart and popular.
“Ryan loved his regiment and his unit. He trusted his comrades to support him.
“As a family, we have waited a long time to figure out what happened.”