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Danny Cornelius found hanged after seeing Lee Rigby hacked to death

A man haunted by seeing Lee Rigby hacked to death in the street was found hanged, an inquest heard.

Danny Cornelius, 38, was described as an isolated man during the hearing.

Unemployed, single and childless, he would often stay at his grandparents' home in Elwill Way, Istead Rise, Gravesend.

The court heard that he was a victim of two armed robberies as a young man.

The inquest was heard at the Archbishops' Palace in Maidstone

The inquest was heard at the Archbishops' Palace in Maidstone

Firstly as a teenager, his gold chain was stolen at knifepoint, and on another occasion just a couple of years later he was forced to withdraw money from a cashpoint and hand it over, on both occasions by young black men.

After that he began to suffer with paranoid schizophrenia, and when his friends started to get married and have children he became disconnected from them.

In 2013, Lee Rigby was murdered in the same street as Mr Cornelius lived in.

The soldier was attacked by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who both are now serving life sentences, and was hacked to death in the street.

Detective Sargeant Sivarajah said during the inquest: “Mr Cornelius witnessed much of what happened. It would have been a huge trauma. It shook the whole community.

Flowers laid after the death of Lee Rigby in Woolwich. Picture Darren FletcherThe Sun

Flowers laid after the death of Lee Rigby in Woolwich. Picture: Darren Fletcher/The Sun

“[The violence and perpetrators] of that would have brought up his own previous experiences.

“After that he became more isolated. He still visited his family, but he mainly stayed indoors.”

A series of other events compounded Mr Cornelius’ delicate mental state.

He previously worked as a courier and went for a promotion which he did not get.

“Mr Cornelius witnessed much of what happened. It would have been a huge trauma. It shook the whole community" - DS Sivarajah

It affected him greatly and eventually he stopped working. For a time, an elderly female neighbour gave him some purpose and kept him busy, as he would help her and take her shopping. But then she passed away.

On occasions he also forgot to take his medication, despite the best effort of his parents, who spoke to him on a daily basis to make sure he kept up his dosage, the court heard.

On July 20 he was at his grandparents' home and decided to stay an extra day, and get his hair cut, but they could not take him into town.

“He was upset about this,” said DS Sivarajah “and went out into the garden”.

He appeared to be standing at the back of the garden for some time so his grandfather Kenneth went out, but discovered him dead.

An ambulance was called but he could not be saved.

The cause of death was given as hanging, there was no third party involvement but no suicide note was left.

At Archbishop’s Palace, Maidstone, coroner Roger Hatch recorded an open verdict.

If you would like confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 at any time.
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