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Inquest: Misadventure ruling on David Hockney's assistant Dominic Elliott
AN ASSISTANT to East Yorkshire-based artist David Hockney died as a result of misadventure when he drank acid after taking a range of drugs and alcohol, a coroner has ruled.
Dominic Elliott, 23, died after drinking a household drain cleaner made up of concentrated sulphuric acid at the painter’s home in Bridlington last March.
A two-day inquest has heard Mr Elliott drank the liquid, which caused serious damage to his mouth and throat before perforating his stomach, after “partying” with his partner John Fitzherbert and taking drugs including cocaine and ecstasy as well as alcohol and cannabis.
Mr Fitzherbert, 48, was Mr Hockney’s long-term partner for 20 years and still lives at the artist’s home and runs his domestic affairs.
After the verdict, Humberside Police confirmed an investigation was continuing into possible drugs offences following Mr Elliott’s death.
A spokesman said a 48-year-old man and a 23-year-old man who were arrested on suspicion of drugs offences remained on bail. He said no one had been charged.
The East Yorkshire coroner, Professor Paul Marks, said there was “not a shred of evidence Dominic intended to take his own life”.
He ruled that there were no suspicious circumstances or any “third party” involvement in the death.
Prof Marks said he was recording a conclusion of misadventure as Mr Elliott took the substances in the expectation that there was a risk involved.
The inquest at Hull Coroners Court heard Dominic died in the early hours of Sunday, March 17, after Mr Fitzherbert took him to hospital in Scarborough. Mr Hockney was asleep in his room.
The court heard that at noon on the Saturday, Mr Elliott leaped out of Mr Fitzherbert’s bed and dived head-first over an internal 10ft high balcony, but did not appear to be hurt.
Mr Fitzherbert told the court that in the early hours of the following morning, he was woken by Mr Elliott who asked him to take him to hospital.
He insisted he did not realise at the time what Mr Elliott had done to himself.
The coroner said it was an “enigma” that Mr Elliott appeared not to show signs of pain despite a pathologist saying the ingestion of the acid would have caused extreme agony.
Hockney’s chief assistant, Jean Pierre Goncalves De Lima, said he received a phone call from Mr Fitzherbert after Mr Elliott’s death, asking him to clear his room of “any evidence of drug use”.
Mr Goncalves De Lima said he did so but later told police what he had done. Mr Goncalves De Lima said he was aware of some drug use in the house but said Mr Hockney was not.