Two police officers were said to have abandoned a 15-year-old boy who died after jumping into freezing water to avoid being arrested for trespassing on a boat because he feared getting in trouble with his mother, an inquest heard today.
Police found Marcel Wochna, 15, trespassing on a boat in Southampton in November 2021. They wanted to handcuff him, but the schoolboy resisted and leapt a metre forward into the river instead.
Marcel was with a friend – who cannot be named for legal reasons – at the time of the incident. His friend told the hearing he heard him ‘gasp of shock from how cold the water was’.
The boy was then handcuffed and escorted away by the police and Marcel was left alone in the water, a coroner’s court heard. Marcel’s body was found a day later, floating two and a half miles up the river from where he jumped.
The friend told the inquest that Marcel had recently been grounded by his mother and was worried he’d be in greater trouble for defying her if police called his home.
Police found Marcel Wochna, 15, (pictured) trespassing on a boat in Southampton in November 2021. They wanted to handcuff him, but the schoolboy resisted and leapt a metre forward into the river instead
Marcel’s body was found a day later, floating two and a half miles up the river from where he jumped. Pictured: Search crews looking for missing Marcel in November 2021
Marcel had met with the friend late on the evening of November 7, 2021, to ‘smoke’ and the teenage boys walked around before eventually arriving at Cobden Bridge in the Bitterne area of Southampton, Hampshire.
His friend told the inquest they then boarded a series of boats moored nearby, adding: ‘We were just having a laugh. [We were] curious to look in them and to see what they look like inside.’
He said he saw people nearby phoning the police so the pair then tried to hide.
The teenager told the coroner’s court in Winchester: ‘We stayed in the boat and kind of just crouched in a ball. We were sat down but our heads were in our knees as we didn’t want anyone to see us.
‘I remember just seeing flashlights and the boat rocking as if someone was walking across the walkway.’
The boat was next to a pontoon by Cobden Bridge and two police had walked onto it. The teenager said Marcel was breathing heavily and said ‘If that’s feds I am going to jump in and get away’.
He told the inquest: ‘I genuinely thought he was joking because he said a lot of stuff like that before.’
Marcel’s friend, who was closer to the pontoon, was pulled out by one of the police officers.He continued: ‘The male officer was telling Marcel to come out.
‘He stepped on the boat. The officer grabbed him by one hand. The police officer was asking to put him in handcuffs but he kept resisting with the other hand.
‘He kept saying, “I cant to this, I can’t do this. I can’t do this to my mum again”.
‘The officer was trying to get hold of his other hand. I just remember at the time, he was grounded. He said “I don’t want to get in trouble with my mum”.’
The officer attempted to grab Marcel’s other hand, but he continued to resist, the inquest heard.
Marcel’s friend told the inquest that the 15-year-old had recently been grounded by his mother and was worried he’d be in greater trouble for defying her if police called his home. Pictured are police at the scene in November 2021
Marcel’s friend added: ‘It was a split five seconds of time where Marcel was deciding to jump in or not.’
The inquest also heard that Marcel told the officer: ‘I can’t do this, I’m not letting you arrest me’.
The teen’s friend added: ‘He leapt into the water. I remember a splash and a massive gasp. He jumped forward.
‘I just remember hearing a splash and a lot of gasping because it was really cold that night.’
At that point, both of the officers were standing beside Marcel’s friend and one said ‘suspect in water’, into his radio, the boy told the court.
Area Coroner Jason Pegg asked the teen if the officer had checked if Marcel was alright, and he responded: ‘Not in any way. They were more focused on asking what I had on me.’
According to the teen, the two officers walked back to the car and called for backup – leaving Marcel alone in the water.
He said: ‘They walked me out to the road and put me into the police car. They stayed in the car and then called for backup.’
The inquest at Winchester Coroner’s Court continues.