Death in disused pub garden

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A 52-year-old man, known as a drug user and heavy drinker, was on a “slow, downhill spiral”, an inquest heard.

Christopher Sleafer of Plantation Road, Leighton, was found hanged on a drain pipe in the garden of The White Lion, a disused pub on North Street, by a friend on September 21.

He had cocaine and heroin in his system, but Bedforshire coroner Tom Osborne confirmed the drugs were not the direct cause of his death.

However, he told the inquest at Ampthill yesterday the possibility that the drugs could have affected the state of his mind could not be ruled out.

Mr Sleafer, who was originally from Brixton, South London, had been suffering from depression for a long period of time and had, on at least one other occasion, attempted to commit suicide.

In February, Mr Sleafer visited a doctor’s surgery in Dunstable where he was diagnosed with a chest infection that was caused by the living conditions in his bedsit where there was
a problem with damp and mould.

He was last seen by his doctor in May who said he did not look very well, had been self harming and had burnt his right buttock with an iron.

PC David Saunders, who was called to the scene of Mr Sleafer’s death, said: “I could see that the man’s jeans pockets were turned out like someone had been looking for something, but you would have not seen the male from there [the street] if you had not been looking.”

The inquest heard how CID had concluded there were no suspicious circumstances and no third party was involved.

Mr Osborne agreed the cause of death was asphyxia and gave a verdict of suicide.

Mr Osborne said: “Unfortunately medical documents show a slow downward spiral for Mr Sleafer from the time he started taking drugs.

“Under normal circumstances I have to be satisfied, beyond all reasonable doubt 
to the point that I am sure, before returning a verdict of suicide.

“But I take the view that if someone takes themselves to a very secluded, derelict site and hangs themselves from a rope, there can be no other conclusion other than he attempted to commit suicide.”