Student died of hypothermia after night out in Cheltenham

Ali Bunney died while walking home from a Cheltenham nightclub Credit: ITV News

An inquest has heard how a university student died from hypothermia after walking home in the cold from a night out in Gloucestershire.

Ali Bunney, 20, could have been more than four times the drink drive limit when he left a town centre nightclub to walk the nine miles to his home wearing just a short sleeve shirt and trousers in temperatures as low as 4C.

He had been out in Cheltenham on the night of February 8 last year with a group of people celebrating his friend's 21st birthday.

Gloucestershire Coroner's Court heard the student had eaten a meal and friends described seeing him drinking pints of lager, glasses of cocktails and shots of spirits during the night out, which ended at a nightclub.

Friends described him as "staggering" and "swaying from side to side" and when he vanished from the Subtone club they tried to ring him but could not get hold of him.

The inquest heard they thought the Cardiff University student would have got a taxi home to Gloucester as he had done that before.

Mr Bunney - who was days from his 21st birthday - was found unconscious at the edge of Gloucestershire Airport, near Cheltenham, the following afternoon by a man out walking his dog and despite every effort to save him by the emergency services, he died later that day in hospital.

The court heard police had received reports that a man was walking along the A40 - a by-pass that links Gloucester to Cheltenham known locally as the Golden Valley - but were unable to find anyone.

Alexander Petrie, who was celebrating his birthday that night, told the hearing how Mr Bunney left his hooded top and coat at a friend's house after eating the meal.

They went to a couple of pubs and carried on drinking cocktails, he said.

"I don't think Ali was too drunk - probably similar to me, I guess," he told the court. "At Subtone he had only one drink during the time he was there and I remember it was a rum and coke - he was drinking with one of my friends.

"Later, my friend, who he was spending most of his time with, said 'Where's Ali?' and we couldn't see him. We checked the whole club."

Mr Petrie said it was at around 2.30am when his friend "just disappeared".

He said: "At that point I just assumed he had got a taxi home as he had done this on one or two occasions after a night out in Cheltenham."

Asked about the weather, Mr Petrie said: "I remember it being very cold and I think it was raining quite a bit."

He also said the group of friends were not drinking heavily and Mr Bunney had drunk "just as much as the rest of us".

"I definitely cannot say how much he had to drink," he added.

Matthew Davis, another friend celebrating Mr Petrie's birthday, said he and Mr Bunney spoke regularly during the night.

"Ali was fine, he did not seem drunk," he told the court in a written statement.

Mr Davis said that by the time he was in the nightclub he was drunk - describing himself as "eight out of 10" on a drunkenness scale - and he assumed Mr Bunney was as well.

"I guess he was drunk because we had been drinking a similar amount," he said.

Matthew James, who was also out that night, described seeing Mr Bunney unsteady on his feet in the nightclub.

"Ali had a drink in his hand and was swaying from side to side but did not look out of control," he said in a written statement.