Bookmaker took sleeping pills before plunge death, inquest told
A coroner has criticised Spanish authorities for their investigation into the death of a British bookmaker who was found dead after falling from his apartment building.
Nicholas Hill, 22, who lived in a three-storey apartment block in Cadiz, had been working in Spain since 2006, the inquest in Gloucester heard.
Mr Hill, from Cheltenham, who worked for a bookmaker in Gibraltar, was regarded as a rising star of the business and was expected to become a partner with his employer's firm.
The circumstances surrounding his death illustrated the difficulty that coroners in the UK have in establishing the facts when deaths happen abroad, Gloucestershire coroner Alan Crickmore said as he recorded an open verdict on Mr Hill.
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"We are left in a case like this with hearsay evidence," he said.
The court heard Mr Hill was found dead in Avenida del Ejercito in La Linea – outside his apartment 1H at Edificio Ballestero – on September 26 last year.
He had taken an overdose level of an anti-histamine drug diphenhydramine, the court heard.
It is also found in sleeping medication Nytol, which was found in his bedroom.
His brother Martin said in a statement that Nicholas was the youngest of three siblings, and had attended school in Bishop's Cleeve, but left at 16.
He had a number of jobs before getting a job with an online betting company Victor Chandler in Gibraltar.
His GP's report revealed nothing serious in his past. He had visited in 2003 for depression, which he fully recovered from after seven weeks.
A police report, read to the court, revealed that at 11.35pm a report was issued that a body had been found on the street outside his ground floor residence and it could be 'inferred' he had thrown himself from the flat roof.
In his bedroom were two boxes of Nytol medication and several empty blister packets. There was no evidence of third party involvement.
A post mortem carried out in this country showed extensive chest trauma and toxicology showed that Mr Hill had consumed no alcohol but a level of diphenydramine at 1.2mg per litre of blood – a toxic concentration.
Pathologist Dr Keith McCarthy said it indicated he'd taken more than therapeutic levels of the substance, but it was more likely he had died of the effects of the fall.
The coroner said the Spanish police report inferred Mr Hill had thrown himself off the roof of the building, but added: "There is no evidence to tell me how he left the roof."
He said the note found, though supportive of suicidal thoughts, was not found easily and was folded and in a drawer, and had not been dated.
He said the evidence didn't reach the standard required for an accidental or suicide verdict, so he recorded an open verdict.
Mr Hill was an avid racing fan and regularly visited horse and dog tracks in the UK and Spain.
Regarded as the brightest young talent at the firm Victor Chandler, he was expected to one day become a senior partner.
"He was a larger than life kind of guy and his death is a truly sickening blow for everyone here," said Ian Marmion, Nick's boss in Gibraltar.
"He was a happy-go-lucky lad and was the life and soul of any party. His death has been a huge shock for people here and it's like losing one of the family."
He regularly visited point-to-point races throughout Gloucestershire and the South West.
He was often seen trackside with his bookmaker cousin Mark Hill, who lives with wife Simone in Upton- upon-Severn.
Speaking after the hearing yesterday at the Hill family home in Prestbury, Nick's father Richard described his son as a "wonderful" person. He added that he believed the coroner had made the correct ruling in recording an open verdict, due to the lack of evidence.