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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 July, 2003, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Ramsay speaks at chef's inquest
David Dempsey, pictured at Amaryllis
David Dempsey was described as "talented"
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has been giving evidence at the inquest into the death of a protégé.

Award-winning chef David Dempsey, 31, fell to his death from a flat off the King's Road, Chelsea, south west London on 4 May.

He had taken cocaine up to 48 hours before his death and had been drinking, Westminster Coroner's Court was told on Wednesday.

Mr Dempsey, who was head chef at Ramsay's Chelsea restaurant, had trained under the celebrity chef and under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Oxfordshire.

Mr Ramsay told Westminster Coroner's Court Mr Dempsey was a "tremendous and talented chef" who was devoted to his career.

But when they met for dinner the night before his death, he had not been himself, said Mr Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay said the chef inspired his Glasgow restaurant
"He was not 100% David. He was slightly agitated - a guy that for me was looking as if he was under pressure," he said.

Mr Ramsay has previously described the chef as the inspiration behind his Glasgow restaurant Amaryllis, who helped it win Glasgow's only Michelin star.

The inquest heard Mr Dempsey had earlier been seen stepping from window ledge to window ledge, smashing windows with a golf club, the inquest was told.

American banker George Niedringhaus told the hearing how he confronted Mr Dempsey breaking into his flat at 2300 BST.

He threw a paperweight at him but missed and shouted that he had phoned police.

Mr Dempsey slipped into another bedroom, smashed the window and left the flat.

Cocaine mixed with alcohol

He fell 40 feet from the second floor and died from multiple injuries, including a broken neck, the inquest was told.

Toxicologist Dr Nikolas Lemos said Mr Dempsey had been under the drink drive limit, but his blood cocaine level was 1.3mg per litre - 0.9mg can be enough to kill.

He said the chef could have taken cocaine "two days or two minutes" before his death.

But he added: "Cocaine tends to cause quite a bit of stimulation when combined with alcohol, no matter how small."

Mr Dempsey's mother, Eileen, who lives in Glasgow and wore a pendant with a photo of her dead son, said she had never seen him take any drugs.

The family are going to get their own toxicology report.

Coroner Dr Paul Knapman adjourned the hearing until 19 August when he will sit in private to review the evidence.


SEE ALSO:
Ramsay to drug test staff
08 Jun 03  |  London


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