A MAN died after accidentally drinking industrial toilet cleaner from a cola bottle, an inquest heard.

Alcoholic Anthony Cosgrave, 55, only had a few mouthfuls of the dark blue liquid but the consequences were fatal.

Describing the horrific moment he realised his friend had swallowed the deadly substance, Anthony Sharkey said: "I turned to him and I noticed blue around his mouth. He looked more grey than usual.

“I thought he had marker pen round his mouth. Then I lifted the Diet Coke bottle up and I knew what it was.

“He had about two or three capfuls.

“It was a tragic, tragic accident.”

He added: “I wished I had thrown it away now.”

The bottle of bleach belonged to Mr Sharkey who used it to clean caravans. His colleague had decanted the bleach into the cola bottle and left it in the footwell of Mr Sharkey’s van.

It had been taken from a container which only allows a small amount of liquid to be released at a time with the intention of sharing the fluid out amongst workmates, the inquest heard.

Mr Sharkey, who had known Mr Cosgrave for 40 years, said his friend was an alcoholic and would ‘drink first and ask questions last’.

Last October 12, the pair had been out driving together when Mr Sharkey stopped to buy his friend some cider.

When Mr Sharkey got out Mr Cosgrave drank from the cola bottle, not understanding the danger.

After returning to the van, Mr Sharkey realised what had happened and rushed his friend to the Rawtenstall Urgent Care Centre.

Mr Cosgrave became ‘paralytic’ and too weak to stand up. He started vomiting into an oxygen mask.

Mr Cosgrave, of Manchester Road, Haslingden, was then taken via ambulance to Royal Blackburn Hospital's intensive care unit where he died hours later on October 13 last year.

Pathologist Walid Salman, of Royal Blackburn Hospital, said the toxicity of the chemicals gave a shock to Mr Cosgrave’s heart, most likely leading to a cardiac arrest.

In a statement read to Burnley Coroner’s Court, Mr Sharkey said his friend had gone on holiday with a partner called Sheila who had then died.

Mr Cosgrave then fell ill and began to drink heavily and neglect his personal hygiene, often going ‘weeks or months without washing’, the inquest heard.

Mr Sharkey said: “If he had a cigarette and a cider, he was happy.”

Richard Taylor, senior coroner for East Lancashire, recorded a conclusion of death by misadventure.

He said: “This is a completely unforeseeable set of circumstances that have arisen here.

“Companies should give proper guidance as to how these chemicals should be stored and named.

“In this case, it appears that the person who decanted it has done for good reasons - to share it.

“Then Mr Cosgrave finished his cider and decided to have a drink.

“His heart wasn’t in great order in any event and the shock of this toxin to his heart was too much.”