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Mother of missing Canning Town man found son’s body in Amsterdam, court hears

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 January 2020

Walthamstow Coroners Court

Walthamstow Coroners Court

Archant

A mother discovered her son’s body in a ditch after he went missing on a trip to Amsterdam, an inquest has heard.

Aspiring artist Andre Wallace of Butchers Road, Canning Town, was on a mini-break with a cousin and two friends when he disappeared after smoking cannabis at a cafe in May last year.

The 20-year old Southampton University student's cousin, Christopher Okopu, filed a missing person's report with Dutch police who said there was little they could do because Andre hadn't been missing 48 hours.

Andre's mum, Angela Parkinson, flew out with his grandmother searching hospitals and posting missing person fliers.

But on revisiting the last place Andre was seen, Ms Parkinson spotted disturbed grass at a roadside verge.

She looked down a slope into a ditch at the side of President Allendelaan road and saw the orange and yellow pattern of her son's trainers. Andre's body was lying in tall reeds.

At the inquest into his death held at Walthamstow Coroner's Court on Thursday, January 9, Ms Parkinson recalled the last time she saw her son.

"I hugged him and said, 'Be careful'. For some reason I hugged him again as a thought flashed in my mind that this could be the last time I saw him," she said.

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Andre texted to say they arrived safely in Amsterdam that same day, May 22. His mum told him to stay safe. Andre replied with a prayer emoji. It was their last contact.

The next Ms Parkinson heard was that her son was missing.

The court heard that before his disappearance, Andre and Mr Okopu visited the Sensemillia Coffeeshop where Andre smoked the store's weed.

After 30 minutes, he grew agitated and became irritated by flies. The pair went for a walk, but Andre suddenly sprinted off, hitting his head on the ground after crashing into a food cart. He leapt back up and bolted out of his cousin's sight.

A post mortem found the measure of psychoactive substance THC in Andre's system was consistent with levels seen with recreational cannabis use.

A pathologist found no evidence of traumatic head injury and gave the cause of death as drowning.

Reaching a verdict of misadventure, senior coroner, Nadia Persaud, said cannabis and concussion contributed to Andre's death.

"It's such a tragic and sad loss to lose someone like Andre," she said.

To find out more about drugs, their effects and the law, visit Talk to Frank online or call 0300 123 6600 for facts, support and advice.

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