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Aide to Artist Hockney Drank Drain Cleaner

Coroner rules out foul play in assistant's death
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 30, 2013 11:14 AM CDT

(Newser) – A young assistant to British artist David Hockney died when he drank acid after taking drugs and alcohol at the painter's home, a coroner has ruled. Dominic Elliott, 23, died after drinking a household drain cleaner made of sulfuric acid in March. It's still not clear why, or whether it was an accident, but the coroner ruled today that there were no suspicious circumstances in the death. A post-mortem examination showed that Elliott had taken cocaine and other drugs before he died. (The BBC terms it a "misadventure" and says it doesn't appear to have been a suicide attempt.)

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Hockney's former partner, John Fitzherbert, earlier testified that he and Elliott had smoked cannabis and consumed alcohol at Hockney's house in northeastern England the day before the death. The 75-year-old Hockney, one of Britain's best-known artists, said in a statement he was asleep at the time and didn't know what Fitzherbert and Elliott had been doing that day. (Read more David Hockney stories.)

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