Gloucester man thought to have been murdered, killed himself with a sword
By Court reporter | 9th July 2021
A 39-year-old Gloucester man who was initially thought to have been murdered in his home had in fact killed himself with a sword while high on ecstasy, an inquest heard on Thursday (July 8).
Gloucestershire Police initially treated Jonathan Clapham's death on October 15th last year as suspicious, and later as 'unexplained', after the initial post mortem revealed cause of death to be a stab wound to the lower neck.
Gloucester Coroner's Court heard that a sword with a copper coloured handle was found at Mr Clapham's flat in Kingsholm Road, Gloucester with his blood on the weapon.
Paramedics had been called to the flat at 8pm and they examined Mr Clapham but did not attempt any life-saving procedures as rigor mortis had already set in.
A Home Office pathologist, Dr Williams, found that Mr Clapham's body contained high levels of Methylenedioxy methamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as Ecstasy and cannabis along with low levels of Ketamine.
Detective Inspector David Parry-Jones told the inquest that Mr Clapham was born in Africa in April 1982 and had moved to the UK around 20 years ago with his parents and two siblings. He initially shared a flat in Cheltenham with his brother David.
DI Parry-Jones said: "In October 2017 Mr Clapham moved in with his parents as he was suffering from mental health issues and had become an alcoholic.
"However this arrangement did not last long as he moved out and began sleeping in his car. He was later found a flat by one of the managers at the landscaping company where he worked.
"Mr Clapham's drug and alcohol misuse got worse, but he managed to hold his job until the spring of 2020 when he was furloughed during the pandemic lockdown, during which his mental health continued to decline.
"Mr Clapham regained his employment in the summer of last year and continued until October 5 when he failed to appear at work. On October 13 he told his employers about his current situation and the managers agreed that he should take time off to sort himself out and come back to work when he was ready.
"Mr Clapham then went to see his mother and told her that he had made the decision to go to a rehabilitation clinic to help him with his issues.
"On October 14, Mr Clapham's neighbours observed that his behaviour had become unusual as he was seen at 7.30am sat in the hallway and was muttering to himself and banging his head against the wall.
"One witness called the police and she explained that she had become very concerned about his welfare. Officers arrived and spoke to him and realised he was having a mental episode.
"The officers gave him one of their phones to allow him to talk to a member of the mental health crisis team.
"Mr Clapham's mother was also called, and she stayed with him until 9pm that evening. During this time, he did not take any drugs or consume any alcohol."
The inquest heard that Mr Clapham's mother was contacted the following day as he was not at all well. When she arrived at the flat, she found that her son was in the process of moving out as a lot of his possessions were in his van. He was manically cleaning everything.
Mr Clapham's mother stayed with him for some time before leaving in mid-afternoon when she said she would return later in the evening having contacted numerous mental health and medical bodies.
DI Parry-Jones added: "When she returned to the flat at 6.45pm she couldn't gain access to the building through the main door. She contacted another resident who was not at home but said they would return immediately.
"At 8pm entry was gained, and Mr Clapham's door was found to be ajar, but inside he was found to be already deceased. The emergency services were called."
The inquest was told that the subsequent police investigation followed in which a metal sword covered in a large amount of blood was discovered along with a knife sharpening stone near to Mr Clapham's body.
"When this sword was examined no third-party DNA was found on it - the blood was only Mr Clapham's. The police then concluded that there was no evidence of any third-party involvement in Mr Clapham's death."
Assistant coroner for Gloucestershire Roland Wooderson ruled that Mr Clapham had died at his home address on October 15, 2020, from a stab wound to his neck and gave a narrative conclusion.
He stated: "Jonathan had been demonstrating mental health issues in the days leading up to his death. When he was found at his home address on October 15, he was found deceased with a sword close by. The police found no evidence of any third-party involvement.
"Mr Clapham's medical cause of death was from a stab wound to his neck and he had a high level of ecstasy in his body."
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