Royal Docks body was student at UEL

A body found in the Royal Docks last year belonged to an international student at the University of East London, an inquest heard.

Assistant Deputy Coroner Nadia Persaud resumed an inquiry on Friday into the death of Anto Nishanthan Vijentharan, 24, who drowned in the River Thames by the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge last November 23.

The inquest was opened on November 28 at Walthamstow Coroners Court but was adjourned to call witnesses and his family, who live in Germany, to give evidence.

Anto, also originally from Germany, was living with relatives while studying a BA in International Business at UEL’s Docklands Campus.

On November 21 at around 8.30pm, two students living on the Docklands Campus spotted Anto in the water as they were crossing the Sir Steve Redgrave bridge to visit a convenience store nearby.

Ceyda Hall, one of the eyewitnesses along with her friend Natalie Carr, called campus security while Natalie called the emergency services.

Ceyda said: “I could just see a head coming up and down in the water. We did shout to get his attention but he didn’t say anything.”

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Police arrived on the scene around 15 minutes later with an ambulance crew who enlisted the help of water rescue teams from the London Fire Brigade and London City Airport who only managed to recover Anto’s backpack from the water.

Inspector Dan Curry, Forest Gate police station duty officer in charge of the night response team, said there was around 200 students watching the incident when police arrived so a crime scene was set up from Pontoon Dock to the end of the bridge.

He recorded that there was no sign of a struggle, broken glass, or blood at the scene and CCTV could not provide a motivation as it does not operate in the area so concluded that it was non-suspicious and not to be treated as a criminal investigation.

Emergency services continued to search the next day and a body was recovered by police divers at 1.28pm and pronounced dead by paramedics at 1.45pm.

His father, Mr Vijentharan, told the court through a Tamil interpreter: “He was doing well in his studies and he passed all his essays.

“He was always quite a silent person but he was well, I think.”

Anto notified UEL that he would be taking a break from his course due to unspecified health reasons and returned home to his family in Germany.

Mr Vijentharan said: “He was new to this country and he was working night shifts but he couldn’t cope and that was the reason he couldn’t take his exams.”

Due to resume his course in September 2011, Anto left his family without their knowledge and travelled back to the UK, only making contact via text message to tell them he was safe and with friends.

A letter, from Professor Anthony Button of UEL, was read out in court stating Anto had failed to re-register or respond to the university’s correspondence so he had been withdrawn from the course.

Ass Dep Coroner Persaud gave an open verdict due to insufficient evidence as to how Anto entered the water, suspicious circumstances, and third party involvement.

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