Chef's fatal fall caused by cocaine

A CHEF plunged 50ft to his death after a reaction to taking cocaine, a coroner ruled yesterday.

David Dempsey, 31, a head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at Claridge’s Hotel, in London, died in a bizarre drink and drug-fuelled rampage in May.

Mr Dempsey was seen breaking windows at a block of exclusive flats in Chelsea, behaviour that doctors have linked to excited delirium, a condition that can be triggered by cocaine use.

Recording a verdict of accidental verdict, Dr Paul Knapman, the Westminster coroner, said Mr Dempsey’s death was a warning of the horror of drugs.

He said: "I’m satisfied on the evidence that David Dempsey had taken alcohol and cocaine.

"The timing, and the mode and the quantity of this cocaine is not so important. What is important is his reaction to it. It does seem he had a reaction so that he might have had excited delirium.

"He acted completely out of character and ultimately it caused his death."

Dr Knapman added: "This case serves as a reminder, if ever one was needed, of the unpredictability and dangers of cocaine. My sympathy goes out to the family."

A statement read out by John Cooper, the Dempsey family’s solicitor, after the verdict said that the chef was remembered as an exceptional human being.

The statement, on behalf of Mr Dempsey’s parents and his partner, Fiona McClement, the mother of his two children, said: "We, the family of David Dempsey, would like to say how much we miss him. He was a loving partner, a caring father and a loyal son who we will never forget.

"We repeat the words of the coroner, that David’s reaction on the night in question was totally out of character. We would like now to pick up the pieces of our lives and remember David as the exceptional human being that he was."

The hearing had been told that Mr Dempsey was probably a regular user of cocaine.

On the night he died he had confided to Paul Carroll, a co-worker, that he "did a bit of Charlie [cocaine] earlier" and had taken the drug before.

Dr Nikolas Lemos, the head of forensic toxicology at St George’s Hospital, in London, had told the court that Mr Dempsey’s blood alcohol level was 36 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood. The drink-drive limit is 80mg.

His blood cocaine level was 1.36mg per litre, above the 0.9mg which has been associated with fatalities.

Dr Knapman, reading an excerpt from the American Journal of Forensic Medicine on the effects of cocaine use, told the court: "The most perplexing and most bizarre deaths associated with cocaine intoxication are those following a psychotic reaction to the drug known as excited delirium.

"The typical scenario is rapid onset of paranoia, followed by aggression towards objects, particularly glass."