THE death of a 21-year-old Bradford man at York Racecourse was "a tragic end to a very young life", an inquest heard today.

Jack Yates, of Hillcrest Drive, Queensbury, was at the races on Saturday, May 25, last year with a group of friends only days before his 22nd birthday, when he fell from the second floor inside the Knavesmire Stand.

Linda Stephenson, a security supervisor at the racecourse, told the hearing in York: "Some lads were messing about at the top of the stairs" after the last race, shortly before 5pm.

She said: "I intervened and asked them kindly to get down from the bannister for health and safety reasons."

She said Mr Yates was joking about health and safety regulations and added: "I asked him to refrain from being on the rail and he did that. The other two said 'that's it we've had enough' and backed off and about four or five steps later he got back on the rail."

She said friends tried to grab him as Mr Yates stumbled but could not stop him falling.

Thomas Hainsworth, who travelled to York with Mr Yates, said the group had been drinking on the train, and he had "about five pints and four vodka and cokes". He believed the rest of the group had about the same amount.

Another friend, Robert James Williams, said: "I can't believe what had happened, he was just having fun. I remember we had a bannister at school we used to slide down. He was just having fun, I can't believe it."

Mr Yates's blood alcohol level was 264 milligrams per decilitre, which would be associated with confusion, disorientation and a lack of co-ordination, the inquest heard.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Jonathan Leach, Assistant Coroner for North Yorkshire, said the cause of death was multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, and said it was "a tragic end to a very young life".

A spokesman for York Racecourse said: "In the words of the coroner this was a tragic accident. It is a sad day and the thoughts of the racecourse are with the Yates family."

Mr Yates, who had a degree in human resources, worked at Keelham Farm Shop in Thornton, Bradford.