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Suicide verdict in flat death mystery

Emergency services called after contamination fears

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886628

Suicide verdict in flat death mystery

HOMES were roped off and officials wearing hazardous materials suits were called to a Hungerford address after an “eccentric” expert in chemistry and robotics took his own life.

The incident caused alarm at the time, with police refusing to release any details for days and South Central Ambulance Service dispatching its Hazardous Area Response Team.

But an inquest into the death of Andrew Ronald Kaiser, held at Reading Town Hall yesterday (Wednesday), heard the operation was triggered by a false alarm.

Assistant Berkshire coroner Ian Wade said police community support officer Sally Joyce had been asked to attend the 50-year-old’s home in Morley Place around 3pm on March 28.

Getting no reply, he added, she summoned a colleague, Pc Paul Meredith, who broke in.

Upstairs, they found the body of Mr Kaiser, described by his family as a beloved but eccentric loner with a passion for chemistry, robotics, mathematics and music.

He was discovered dead upstairs, asphyxiated.

But the inquest heard he had been building a strange “robotic” contraption in the home, that a carbon monoxide alarm had been tampered with and the door to the gas boiler was open.

All this led Pc Meredith to fear for his and his colleague’s safety, the inquest heard, prompting him to evacuate and call for assistance.

The coroner said that the officer said later in a statement: “There was a possibility this might have been a chemical suicide and the atmosphere might have been contaminated.”

However, the death was not linked to carbon monoxide.

Mr Wade said toxicology tests had shown no alcohol or drugs in Mr Kaiser’s system and the cause of death was recorded as asphyxia.

His mother, Anne Kaiser, told the hearing her son was a very private person and added: “We couldn’t believe it when we saw his flat – he seemed to have been building some kind of robotic thing.”

The inquest heard that Mr Kaiser, who had lived in Hungerford for 20 years, was not known to the mental health services and his GP at the Hungerford Surgery had not seen him since 2010.

His sister, Julie Coyle, described him as loveable and accomplished but “very eccentric”.

The inquest heard that letters from Mr Kaiser’s employers were found in his home which suggested his performance at work had been slipping.

Mr Wade said: “The picture that emerges of Andrew is that he had, in some sense, reached middle age... he appears to have been suffering from something which caused a loss of performance at work.

“He appears to have reached the decision that he would take steps to end his own life.”

He recorded a verdict of suicide.

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