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Death of Plaistow man remains a mystery

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 July 2012

Poison cannot be identified, coroner hears

» A computer programmer told his brother he was going to kill himself and sent a letter to him revealing where his body could be found.

Simon Chan, 37, of Plaistow, was discovered dead in undergrowth in Greenwich Park after the chilling note correctly identified the location.

A mysterious poison found next to the body is so rare toxicology tests could not determine what it is, Southwark Coroner’s Court heard. Mr Chan had been out for dinner with this brother, Samson two days before his body was found on February 1.

The court heard the brothers were due to move in together in April and share the Newham home that Simon had originally bought with his ex-girlfriend.

In a statement provided for the inquest Samson said:

‘We had been discussing me moving in with him with the flat. He appeared to be in an ordinary mood. But he was still feeling quite down and said that he might top himself on Tuesday. He said that life has its ups and downs but for the last four years it has been down for him.’

The court heard that Mr Chan had built up gambling debts on his credits card and was devastated after the separation.

‘I told him that I was moving in April and that I was looking forward to it and that this was every reason to live,’ the brother said.

Later that evening Samson made a two-hour phone call to his brother in an attempt to try and talk him out of taking his own life.

‘Simon said to me that he knew what I was trying to do, about trying to stop him taking his own life. He said ‘it might not happen,’said Mr Chan. ‘I came off the phone feeling numb.’

The following night Samson received a call from Simon’s ex-girlfriend saying that she could not get in contact with Simon.

‘Her parents had received documents in the post including his driving licence and passport,’ said Samson.

After failing to get in contact with his brother himself, Samson went to Limehouse police station where he reported his brother missing.

The next morning when Samson was retrieving his post he found a letter from Simon. He told the court this included a suicide note which stated where he could be found.

Samson Chan called the police and told them that his brother had written his body would be at the north side of Greenwich Park, near the deer enclosure.

PC Richard Crook searched through the undergrowth and eventually found the body in a small clearing.

He said that he searched around the area and found a quarter of cup full of coffee, the lid from the coffee cup, a white tissue and two tubes with white crystals in them.

The area was cordoned off and other emergency services arrived, but Simon Chan was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pathologist Peter Jerreat told the court the Mr Chan’s body was fresh when he carried out the post mortem and other than a slightly swollen brain and heavy lungs, he could see nothing unusual.

He added that toxicology reports showed there were no drugs or alcohol in Mr Chan’s system and so he had no choice but to find the cause of death as unascertained. The white crystals found in the tubes next to Mr Chan’s in the park were analysed, but that tests were not able to determine what they were.

Coroner Shanta Deonarine said: ‘It is very unusual that to have a cause of death as unascertained in a body that was quite fresh.’

‘Here we have a body that is capable to being examined. It is very unusual to have an unascertained cause of death in circumstances such as these.’

She added that as no cause of death could be found, she could not find that Mr Chan of Opus Studio, Plaistow Road, had committed suicide. Verdict: Open.


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