Hockney aide killed by acid during 'drug binge'
Dominic Kent Elliott died after drinking toilet cleaner and leaping over balcony, inquest hears
|EDITOR'S NOTE: Since this story was published a coroner has recorded a verdict of death by misadventure in relation to Dominic Elliott's death.
DAVID HOCKNEY'S 23-year-old assistant died after ingesting sulphuric acid during a "drink and drugs binge", an inquest has heard.
The death of Dominic Kent Elliott at the artist's home in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, devastated 76-year-old Hockney and forced him to put several projects on hold, the Daily Telegraph reports.
An inquest has been told that Elliott – who was the subject of several paintings (above) by Hockney – died on the morning of 18 March after swallowing a toilet cleaner containing sulphuric acid while under the influence of cocaine, ecstasy and temazepam. He was rushed to hospital by the painter's former partner, John Fitzherbert, but died of acute peritonitis.
Fitzherbert, who had been in a relationship with Elliott for four months at the time of his death, told the inquest Elliott had texted him asking him to come to the five-bedroom house in Bridlington. The couple proceeded to drink and take drugs as Hockney slept in another room.
Fitzherbert said Elliott seemed a "little down" about missing a photoshoot by Annie Liebowitz for Vanity Fair.
Elliott, a former rugby player, smoked cannabis and drank "six to eight" bottles of beer before he and Fitzherbert went to bed. At noon the next day, the older man saw Elliott "laughing hysterically" before "disappearing head-first over the landing".
He seemed unharmed by the 10-foot fall and he and Fitzherbert went back to bed. The older man said he was woken "in the early hours" by Elliott, who had been sick and said he felt unwell.
Fitzherbert decided to drive the 23-year-old to Scarborough hospital, but about 20 minutes into the journey the younger man "slouched forward and started grunting and groaning". Doctors at the hospital's A&E department tried to save his life, but the damage done to his mouth, stomach and other internal organs by the corrosive liquid was so severe he later died, the Daily Mirror reports.
Asked why he did not summon an ambulance to take Elliott to hospital, Fitzherbert said Hockney had not been well and he wanted to protect the painter from any "scandal involving drugs in his house".
Hockney did not attend the inquest but a statement from him was read out. He said he knew Elliott in a "professional" rather than a social capacity, but was aware the young man "sometimes drank a lot and this gave him a Jekyll and Hyde character".
The inquest continues. ·