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Inquest hears David Hockney's assistant died after drinking acid
9:32am Friday 30th August 2013 in News
An assistant to artist David Hockney died after drinking acid at the painter’s East Yorkshire home.
Dominic Elliott, 23, had taken cocaine, ecstasy and temazepam before he drank the liquid and was rushed to hospital, where he died, an inquest has heard.
Mr Elliott was taken ill at Hockney’s home in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, in March.
The artist was asleep at home at the time.
Hockney’s former partner, John Fitzherbert, told the hearing in Hull that he drove Mr Elliott to Scarborough Hospital in the early hours of the morning.
He said that, during the day leading up to the incident, he and Mr Elliott had smoked cannabis and drunk alcohol and Mr Elliott had also snorted cocaine.
A pathologist told the court that temazepam and ecstasy was also found in his body.
Dr Richard Shepherd said the acid severely burned Mr Elliott’s mouth, tongue and throat before perforating his stomach.
In a statement read to the court, Mr Hockney said he was asleep in his bedroom in his five-bed former seaside guesthouse when he was woken on the morning of Sunday, March 17, to be told Mr Elliott had died.
Mr Hockney, who was not in court, said he had gone to bed at 9pm the night before and although he came down to the kitchen at midnight to make a cup of tea and met Mr Fitzherbert and his chief assistant, Jean Pierre De Lima, there was “nothing out of the ordinary”.
The painter, who gave his occupation in his statement as “artist”, said Mr Elliott, who had studied physics at the University of York but dropped out, and Mr Fitzherbert had been in a relationship for about four years.
He described how a number of people lived in his house.
Mr Hockney said he and Mr Fitzherbert were still on amicable terms but now led separate lives.
He said he had known Mr Elliott for about ten years and described how he helped him with all aspects of his studio work at his home and in other premises in Bridlington.
But the artist said he only knew him “professionally” and he did not “really know him in a social aspect”.
He said Mr Elliott did sometimes drink a lot and this gave him a “Jekyll and Hyde” character.
“I cannot comment on any of the lifestyle habits he has,” Mr Hockney added.
Mr Hockney described how he had not been too well at the time of the incident due to a mini-stroke.
The artist said he was “completely unaware” of what Mr Fitzherbert and Mr Elliott had been doing that day.
• The inquest was adjourned until today, when it is expected to finish.