Open verdict recorded in popular musician's death

INQUEST: The body of Derek Roger Smith was found at the foot of cliffs in West Bay

INQUEST: The body of Derek Roger Smith was found at the foot of cliffs in West Bay

First published in News
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Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

An open verdict was recorded into the death of a popular musician.

The body of Derek Roger Smith was found at the foot of West Bay cliffs last December.

An inquest heard that the 65-year-old had been suffering severe pain following dental surgery.

He was taking prescribed drugs and over-the-counter painkillers, his partner Annette Woolley said.

She said he had been taking paroxetine – a drug used to treat anxiety and depression – and this concerned her because of its links to suicidal thoughts.

On a visit to the GP, Mr Smith was told to stop taking the drug immediately, she said.

No evidence was presented to the inquest from any GP about the drugs Mr Smith had been taking.

Ms Woolley told assistant coroner for Dorset Stephen Nicholls she wanted to know why.

The inquest heard that Mr Smith’s brother had worked on paroxetine during its development, and ‘even then’ the link to suicide was known. Although the inquest heard that Mr Smith had attended a mental health course earlier in the year, no further evidence was presented about his medical history or the drugs he had been given. The inquest heard that he had driven twice to West Bay three nights before his death and two days after starting a new medication. She drove to West Bay because of what he had told her about his intentions when he drove there three nights before.

Upon arrival, she saw an ambulance and a police car and told them she thought the body which had been discovered by a walker at the foot of East Cliff was Mr Smith.

A post mortem later found Mr Smith had suffered multiple injuries.

The inquest heard that he was happy and enjoying life prior to suffering from pain, sleep deprivation and feelings of anxiety caused by complications arising from dental surgery.

Recording an open verdict into the death, Mr Nicholls said: “One of the matters which the inquest needs to address is whether Mr Smith deliberately took his own life.

“For that conclusion to be recorded the evidence has to be such that the coroner is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt.

“Having looked at the evidence in this case, I am going to return an open verdict because I am not satisfied on the evidence I have before me that Mr Smith intended to take his own life.”

Mr Smith was a well-known musician and comedian who went by the name of The Amazing Mr Smith.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Smith’s daughter Rosie said she would be making further enquiries as to why no evidence was presented about the drugs prescribed to her father.

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