A CORONER has recorded an open verdict over the death of a man who drowned in the River Foss last November.

Leslie Bell, 63, was found in the water at around 11am on Tuesday, November 18, just a few hundred yards from his home in Monkgate.

Coroner Jonathan Leech said on Tuesday he could not be sure Mr Bell had intended to take his own life.

Recording his finding, Mr Leech said: "It is clear from what I have heard that Leslie was a 63-year-old man with a history of mental health difficulties. He had a large and supportive family who he saw regularly."

Mr Bell, who moved to York from Keighley in 2013, and was being cared for at home by psychiatrists, nurses and support workers from a crisis team.

On the day he died, health workers tried to visit but could not raise Mr Bell either by phone or at his home.

The coroner heard that nurses and support workers had been visiting him often in the days running up to his death, but had not found Mr Bell to be suicidal and did not think there was a risk he would harm himself.

At the inquest, family members asked medics why more action had not been taken either to admit Mr Bell to hospital or section him given that he was known to misuse strong prescription drugs bought over the internet.

Dr Gerard Garry, a consultant psychiatrist who gave evidence at the inquest, said there had been a plan in place to get Mr Bell substance misuse help.

"If he had got through this episode of depression he would have been helped by the community mental health team, but it is not normal to take someone into hospital for substance misuse."

At the time the most important thing for medical staff was Mr Bell's depression and the risk of "self neglect", Dr Garry added.

At the beginning of November, Mr Bell had fallen at home and been admitted to hospital when he had seen psychiatrists and a specialist substance abuse nurse, but had been discharged. Later that month, suffering from a relapse of chronic depression, he started being cared for at home by the mental health crisis team.

The inquest also heard from a health trust worker who had carried out a Serious Incident Review after Mr Bell's death, but had found there had been no failings in his care.

Although there had been a delay in getting Mr Bell referred to the right mental health teams, that happened 18 months before his death, and procedures had already been changed by the time Mr Bell's case was reviewed, the report said.