David Hockney aide died from drinking bleach while high on drugs
A personal studio assistant to artist David Hockney died after swallowing bleach during a drink and drugs binge at the artist’s seaside home, an inquest heard yesterday.
The 23-year-old keen rugby player, Dominic Elliott, died in March after he was taken to the Scarborough hospital from the millionaire artist’s home in Bridlington, East Yorkshire.
It has been reported that Mr Elliott was in a relationship with Hockney’s ex-partner John Fitzherbert and the duo ended up in bed together after a late night session while Hockney slept just a few corridors away in his home.
Yesterday’s inquest in Hull heard that Mr Elliott had taken cocaine, ecstasy and temazepam before he drank half a bottle of bleach.
Hockney did not attend the inquest but submitted a statement that read: “He had been asleep in his bedroom and woke up in the morning on 17 March at 9.30am to be told of his assistant’s death.”
Hockey said that he knew Mr Elliott only on a “professional basis” and described him as a “Jekyll and Hyde character” when drunk.
Mr Fitzherbert, who was present in the court yesterday, described how he and Mr Elliott had spent the entire Friday night drinking and taking drugs.
He told the court that after Hockney left the house on Saturday morning, Mr Elliott started laughing hysterically before jumping off a 10-foot-high internal balcony. However, he was not seriously hurt.
Pathologist Dr Shepherd told the inquest that Mr Elliott would have been in extreme pain and he asked Mr Fitzherbert whether he noticed this, as he attended Mr Elliott when he accompanied him to the hospital.
Mr Fitzherbert described that he was woken up by Mr Elliott in the middle of the night asking to be taken to the hospital, and on their journey to the hospital the young fellow “slouched forward and started grunting and groaning”.
He explained that staff at the Scarborough general hospital initially brought out a wheelchair but soon realised they needed a stretcher for the patient. Within minutes he was pronounced dead and a post mortem later concluded that the 23-year-old died from acute chemical peritonitis caused by the ingestion of sulphuric acid.
The inquest heard that a week before Mr Elliott’s death he had been upset at being left out of a photo shoot for Vanity Fair by the celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Mr Fitzherbert said: “She wanted a picture of the people who worked with David in the studio, but he wasn’t informed about this happening and was very upset at being left out.”
The inquest has been adjourned and is expected to end Friday.