An ASSISTANT to artist David Hockney died after drinking acid at the painter’s home.
Dominic Elliott, 23, had taken cocaine, ecstasy and temazepam before he swallowed 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 the time.
Hockney’s former long-term 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 snorted cocaine.
A pathologist told the court that temazepam and ecstasy were 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, Hockney said he was asleep in his bedroom in the five-bed former seaside guesthouse when he was woken on the morning of Sunday, 17 March, to be told Mr Elliott had died.
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 said Mr Elliott and Mr Fitzherbert had been in a relationship for about four months.
He described how a number of people lived in his house. He said he had a large double bedroom where he also did portraits. He said Mr Fitzherbert, with whom he had a long relationship, had another large, self-contained room. Hockney said he and Mr Fitzherbert were still on amicable terms but now led separate lives.
The painter said the other people living in the house were Mr De Lima and another man, Jonathan Wilkinson, who works in the art industry.
“I would say I’m close to all three of these people and trust them completely as I have known them for many years,” he said in his statement.
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.
Earlier, giving evidence in person, Mr Fitzherbert described how he and Mr Elliott had spent the Friday night drinking and smoking cannabis.
He said that on the Saturday morning, after Hockney had left the house, Mr Elliott started laughing hysterically before he jumped head first off a 9ft-high internal balcony of the house.
Mr Fitzherbert said he had earlier been drinking whisky but his younger companion had drunk six to eight bottles of beer. He said they had been smoking cannabis and Mr Elliott had snorted cocaine.
Mr Fitzherbert said that at about 11:30am on the Saturday, they got undressed and got into bed to wind down. “Dominic just got up from bed, ran towards the door laughing hysterically, and threw himself off the internal landing,” he said.
Asked by the coroner, Professor Paul Marks, why he did this, Mr Fitzherbert said: “No idea.” But he said Mr Elliott was not seriously hurt..
He said Mr Elliott later smoked more cannabis and they fell asleep again together, waking up later in the evening to have milk and yoghurt.
Mr Fitzherbert said he was woken by Mr Elliott in the middle of the night. He was standing in his underpants saying: “Can you take me to hospital?”
He told the court he found a bottle of Knock-Out toilet and drain cleaner in the sink but did not connect it to Mr Elliott at that time.