Death of rough sleeper found decomposing in disused Valentines Park toilet was 'alcohol related', inquest finds
PUBLISHED: 16:02 05 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:02 05 November 2018
The body of a rough sleeper was found decomposing in a disused Valentines Park toilet which he used as a makeshift home.
An inquest at Waltham Forest Town Hall, in Forest Road, today (November 5) determined the cause of death of Ryszard Najdek, 60, to be alcohol-related.
Ryszard’s body was discovered by his friend Danius Bistrickrs in an abandoned public toilet near Perth Road and Lynton Crescent on November 21 last year.
In a statement read aloud by assistant coroner Ian Wade QC, Danius said: “I knew Ryszard for approximately three years.
“We used to be homeless together in the Ilford area - I have since got accommodation.”
He spoke of how the last time he saw Ryszard was three weeks prior, around the time of his birthday.
“My friend decided we would go and check on him as I knew where he stayed,” he said.
“The door to the toilet was locked so my friend got a ladder and climbed on to the roof.”
After peering through the skylight atop the bathroom, his friend told Danius, “I think he is dead”.
Det Sgt Nathan Lee, of Ilford police station, attended the scene of Ryszard’s death.
Called to the witness stand, he said: “The area where Mr Nadjek had been found had been a disused public toilet quite hidden from the public by the trees around it.
“It was completely overgrown.”
Describing the inside of the building, he said: “It appeared to be used as a home for him.
“There were hooks where he had been hanging personal items.”
“Near his feet area there was a little wooden shelf with clothing items and food containers.”
Det Sgt Lee did not believe the death was suspicious.
He said: “I believe he had fallen of the shelf area he was using as his bed and banged his head.”
But doubt was cast over the cause of Ryszard’s death when he was found to have suffered a “traumatic head injury” during a post-mortem at East Ham mortuary on November 29 last year.
Dr Charlotte Randall, a forensic pathologist, conducted a second post-mortem on November 30.
“One possible scenario is he has hit his head on the floor,” she said during the inquest.
“Or he has received a blow to the head, but there was nothing else to determine that.”
“He has not got any skull fractures or bruising to the brain.”
A secondary survey by neurological pathologist professor Ali Suraj, established that there was evidence of a traumatic brain injury 24 hours before death, but that it was not the direct cause of death.
“I gave the cause of death as the combined effects of a head injury, hypothermia and alcoholic ketoacidosis,” Dr Randall said, concluding.
She explained the ketoacidosis is a syndrome which can affect people experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal and can prove fatal.
And Ryszard was found wearing only a jumper and trousers with no shoes, despite the bitter cold and rain.
Concluding the inquest, coroner Ian Wade said the exact date of Ryszard’s death could not be pinpointed and so would be recorded as the date his body was discovered.
He said: “In a state of intoxication, not being very stable, Ryzard banged his head leading to a period of time when he was not taking any alcohol, making it difficult for him to cope with the injury and the cold.
“I don’t know how he injured his head.
“I can speculate but it doesn’t seem to me that it is necessary.
He said: “All of Ryszard’s troubles follow from the lifestyle that he, perhaps unwilling, embraced.
He added: “It seems to me that it is a perfectly considered and appropriate conclusion to find that Ryszard death was alcohol-related.”
“All that remains is for me to extend my condolences and sympathies to all who knew Ryszard and for his deeply dismal circumstances.”
Ryszard leaves behind a wife in Poland and a niece in the UK.
No family or friends attended the inquest.
Redbridge Together aims to raise funds for two projects at the heart of helping the homeless in the borough.
Two thirds of all money raised will go towards the creation of pioneering pop-up hostel Project Malachi and one third to The Welcome Centre day centre for the homeless.
Project Malachi aims to create a temporary hostel for rough sleepers and homeless people using recycled shipping containers on the site of a crumbling former funeral directors in Chadwick Road to rebuild their lives.
The Welcome Centre, in St Mary’s Road, offers wide ranging services from laundry to counselling.
You can support by donating money, raising funds, displaying Redbridge Together promotional material in businesses or offering work placements.
Redbridge Together is an association an association between Ilford Salvation Army, The Welcome Centre, Ilford BID, the Ilford Recorder and Redbridge Council.
To get involved email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate £3 by texting LIFE to 70145 or at Crowdfunder.co.uk/RedbridgeTogether