David Hockney's assistant died after drinking acid, inquest told (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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David Hockney's assistant died after drinking acid, inquest told
An assistant to Bradford artist David Hockney died after drinking acid at the painter’s home.
Dominic Elliott, 23, had taken cocaine, ecstasy and temazepam before he drank 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 home 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 also snorted cocaine.
A pathologist told the court that temazepam and ecstasy was 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 his five-bed former seaside guesthouse when he was woken on the morning of Sunday, March 17, 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, who gave his occupation in his statement as “artist”, 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.
“I cannot comment on any of the lifestyle habits he has,” Hockney added. Hockney described how he had not been too well at the time of the incident due to a mini-stroke.
On the Saturday, the day before before Mr Elliott died, he said he had been out creating landscape pictures with Mr De Lima.
He said he did not see Mr Elliott before going to bed at 9pm.
Hockney said he was “completely unaware” of what Mr Fitzherbert and Mr Elliott had been doing that day.
The inquest continues tomorrow.