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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Top chef died after cocaine reaction
David Dempsey, pictured at Amaryllis
David Dempsey was described as "talented"
A top chef who fell 40ft from a block of flats died after a bad reaction to cocaine, an inquest has heard.

David Dempsey, 31, a protege of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, fell to his death from the flats off the King's Road in Chelsea, south-west London, on 4 May.

He had been seen climbing along ledges and smashing windows with a golf club and had broken into one of the flats.

The inquest heard his bizarre behaviour could be linked to a condition called Excited Delirium that can be triggered by cocaine use.

Mr Dempsey's mother Eileen told the inquest she had never seen him take any drugs.

But toxicologist Dr Nikolas Lemos said Mr Dempsey's blood cocaine level was 1.3mg per litre, 0.9mg can be enough to kill.

This case serves as a reminder, if ever one was needed, of the unpredictability and dangers of cocaine
Coroner Dr Paul Knapman
Westminster Coroner, Dr Paul Knapman, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: "I'm satisfied on the evidence that David Dempsey had taken alcohol and cocaine.

"The timing and the mode and the quantity of this cocaine is not so important.

"In my estimation what is important is his reaction to it. It does seem he had a reaction so that he might have had excited delirium.

"He acted completely out of character and ultimately it caused his death."

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay said the chef inspired his Glasgow restaurant
Mr Dempsey was head chef at Gordon Ramsay's flagship restaurant in Chelsea.

Mr Ramsay spoke at the inquest and described Mr Dempsey as a "tremendous and talented chef" who was devoted to his career.

He helped Ramsay's restaurant Amaryllis win Glasgow's only Michelin star.

But when they met the night before Mr Dempsey's death, he was not "100% David", Mr Ramsay told the inquest.

The celebrity chef has since pledged to drug-test new staff working at his Chelsea restaurant.

Dr Knapman told the inquest: "This case serves as a reminder, if ever one was needed, of the unpredictability and dangers of cocaine. My sympathy goes out to the family."

In a statement read out after the verdict the family described Mr Dempsey as "a loving partner, a caring father and a loyal son".

"We repeat the words of the coroner that David's reaction on the night in question was totally out of character.

"We would like now to pick up the pieces of our lives and remember David as the exceptional human being that he was."

Ramsay speaks at chef's inquest
09 Jul 03  |  London
Ramsay to drug test staff
08 Jun 03  |  London


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