Shannon Canning was an amazing daughter, great sister, a good friend, and a hardworking and dedicated colleague.
Her friends described her as a sensitive soul.
On the night of May 18, she finished a shift at Tipple Cocktails, in Lancaster, then returned home to the flat she shared in Keswick Court, where she watched Come Dine with Me.
In the early hours of the following morning, Shannon left the property at around 2.20am. She was never seen again.
The alarm was raised on the Friday night, when she failed to turn up for work. Police launched an investigation and high profile search. Four days later, on May 24, members of a rowing club came across Shannon’s body.
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An inquest held on Thursday (October 5) at Preston Coroner’s Court heard that the popular young woman had been drinking the night before she went missing. After watching TV, Shannon had argued with her housemate about her boyfriend before leaving the flat sometime after 2am.
The inquest heard that it was “out of character” for Shannon to not turn up for work. Patrick Hall, the owner of Tipple Cocktails, said Shannon was “always on time”.
The police investigation into Shannon’s disappearance involved officers scouring CCTV footage. The last confirmed sighting of Shannon was at 2.20am when she was seen heading towards the city centre on her own.
During the inquest, Detective Inspector Andrew Ellis described how police initially had an “open mind” about what had happened to Shannon. Officers “looked at certain people” in an attempt to ascertain whether Shannon had been deliberately harmed.
“One of the reasons we put so many resources into it was to see if she had been alone but there was nobody else seen at any point,” DI Ellis said. “We spoke to Evelyn and Eric and they said she had come home, they had all been sat in the lounge, she had been drinking and some type of argument broke out at about midnight.
“[Shannon] went to her room and they went to their room. They noticed at around 5am that the door was open and they saw a message from Shannon which was continuing the argument.”
Mobile phone checks showed that Shannon’s phone last connected to a cell site around two hours after she sent the message on Facebook. This was in the area close to the River Lune near Halton which led to police divers being called in to join the search for Shannon.
DI Ellis added: “We were very open-minded. We knew she was missing but we didn’t know what had happened. There was nothing to suggest she had been harmed but we remained very open-minded.”
On the day Shannon’s body was found, members of a rowing team were making their way down the river when they saw what they at first thought was a log. However, when they got closer, they saw it was a body.
Shannon was found around 200 metres from a stone bridge. A subsequent police search found her mobile phone on the river bed close to the bridge.
The inquest heard how Shannon had a history of mental health issues, dating back to the age of 15. Her mum Jo said in a statement that her daughter suffered from panic attacks but had “turned her life around” before her death and enjoyed going to the gym.
When she drank alcohol Shannon “was vulnerable”, her mum said, and on a few occasions she said she had woken up on the river bank close to where she was found. When Shannon’s bedroom was searched a letter was found which was “essentially a suicide note”.
A post mortem confirmed the cause of her death was drowning. She was heavily intoxicated at the time of her death with levels of alcohol in her system of around three times the drink-driving limit.
Returning a narrative conclusion, Area Coroner Kate Bisset said: “Shannon Canning was found dead on May 24, 2023, at the River Lune in Lancaster. She had a history of mental health difficulties and had been drinking alcohol.
“She had previously expressed thoughts of suicide, however, she was intoxicated with alcohol. It is not possible to determine how she entered the water.”
After Shannon’s death family friend Sarah Burns launched a fundraiser to help pay for the funeral. On the fundraiser page, Sarah said: “I know for so many of us, even people who didn’t know Shannon, we were rooting for a happier ending to this. So I’m asking for help in making this easier for her heartbroken loved ones, because in hard times we rally, as family, as friends and as a community.
“A local girl, Shannon was only 24 when she tragically lost her life. She was an amazing daughter, great sister, a good friend, a hardworking and dedicated colleague, and a sensitive soul who has left us all too soon.”