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Simon Banks took drug normally used to execute criminals to take own life: Inquest

A single man who took his own life using a drug usually purchased on the dark web could have been dead for more than a month before his body was found.

Simon Banks’ decomposing remains were only discovered when neighbours in Wykeham Court, Cornwallis Road, Maidstone, complained of a “pungent” smell on Tuesday, August 16.

The 43-year-old graphic designer was on his bed with a handwritten letter next to him headed My Suicide Note, an inquest at Archbishop’s Palace, Maidstone, heard.

The inquest took place at Archbishop's Palace
The inquest took place at Archbishop's Palace

He had not been seen since Friday, July 8 but sent a text message to a concerned friend two days later saying he was “OK”.

During a postmortem examination experts found traces of a lethal drug that has been used in other countries for the execution of convicted criminals.

Mr Banks told a psychiatrist he had experienced suicidal thoughts for 25 years and had once tried to end his life by cutting himself, the inquest heard.

He said he hadn’t attempted it again because he feared he would fail and be left with brain damage.

He described having severe mood swings and believed he was bipolar but he was never officially diagnosed.

Mr Banks told the psychiatrist he would often start projects, such as learning a language, 3D modelling or web design, but never finish.

Because he was not deemed to be an immediate suicide risk, the Maidstone Community Mental Health Team referred Mr Banks back to his GP in January and recommended he sought counselling.

His case was assessed again in June and invited to a meeting with mental health professionals on Monday, July 18, by which time he may already have been dead.

Detective Inspector Neil Kimber said police were called to the property by a gas engineer who had been tasked with investigating a “quite pungent” smell, which had previously been mistaken for a “smelly bin”.

“He was quite into gaming and had a very good IT knowledge. If you gave him a Mac he could rebuild it" - Mark Stokes

He said police found no packaging for the drug, which is “not easily accessible in the UK” and is normally purchased on the dark web, a parallel worldwide web most people don’t know how to access.

Mr Banks had worked as a graphic designer at Black Lion Press Ltd in Orchard Industrial Estate, Christen Way, Maidstone, for nine years.

His former boss Mark Stokes said: “He was a very good worker but I couldn’t say I really knew him. He wasn’t shy but liked to keep himself to himself.

“He was quite into gaming and had a very good IT knowledge. If you gave him a Mac he could rebuild it.

“It’s a real shame.”

It is thought Mr Banks lived in Gravesend before moving to Maidstone but was originally from Northamptonshire.

He booked annual leave from work before taking his own life, sold his car and closed his social media profiles.

Assistant coroner Christopher Morris gave a conclusion of suicide.

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