A MOTHER has told of her heartbreak and outrage after her son drowned in York’s River Ouse early yesterday following a police incident.

Sharon Scott said her son, Steven O’Neill, 29, of The Wirral, was on a night out in York city centre with his brother – a soldier based in York – when the tragedy happened.

She said she could not understand why Steven ended up in the river because he couldn’t swim.

She also said she was making a formal complaint about the conduct of North Yorkshire Police officers during and after his death.

The force said yesterday that police officers were alerted by CCTV operators to suspicious activity in the area of King’s Staith at about 1.19am and police officers were dispatched to the scene, but on their arrival a man ran off from them and entered the river a short time later.

Ms Scott said: “I don’t know what suspicious behaviour they are referring to. Steven was a hard-working man with no criminal record.

“He’s deceased through a suspicious activity. I am outraged.

“I have had to go to the morgue to identify him and I am utterly heartbroken.

“His girlfriend is so devastated she feels she cannot breathe.”

Ms Scott made a series of allegations, which The Press cannot report at this stage for legal reasons, but which she said she was going to pursue with the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is investigating Steven’s death.

Ms Scott said she was also appalled to have learned that Steven was the fourth person to die in York’s rivers in the last fortnight, and she gave her condolences to the relatives of the other victims.

A North Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said today that there would be a full investigation into the circumstances that led to the man’s death yesterday.

“All deaths where there has been prior police involvement in an incident, referred to as 'police contact', are referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who will conduct an independent investigation,” she said.

“There will also be an investigation on behalf of the coroner. It would not be appropriate to comment further while these inquiries are ongoing."

Experts will meet next week to discuss water safety in York, following a fortnight in which four people have drowned in the city's rivers.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service Station Manager Bob Hoskins said the meeting will involve the service, York Rescue Boat, the University of York, the RNLI, City of York Council and York St John University.