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Brighton busker Darren Akerman killed in Kemp Town squat blaze, inquest told
A busking father-of-two died when a fire broke out in the building he was previously squatting in, an inquest heard.
Darren Akerman’s body was found in an old school building in St George’s Terrace, Kemp Town, Brighton, on November 28 last year.
Just days earlier Mr Akerman, a wellknown busker in Brighton, had been evicted along with others from the property which was owned by the Catholic Church, the inquest in Brighton was told yesterday.
Detective Sergeant Julie Greenwood said she believed Mr Akerman had started the fire, but she was not sure whether this was deliberately or accidentally.
Attacked She also revealed that just 26 days before dying Mr Akerman, known as Mutley, had been attacked with a claw hammer in the same squat and at the time of his death someone had been arrested on suspicion of causing him grievous bodily harm.
Tony Larkin, caretaker for the building, told the inquest that the squatters had been evicted because the parish priest was concerned they were using “naked flames” and there had been two fires there previously.
But on November 28, firefighters’ forced entry to the building which was filled with smoke.
Fire investigation officer, Paul Sundaram-Hardwicke, suggested the fire – which he believed was caused by a naked flame such as a candle – had been burning for some hours before it was noticed.
Mr Larkin said he had met Mr Akerman, a woman called Julie Telford and another man while boarding up the building.
Describing the squat, he said: “There were so many candles.”
Summing up Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said she did not believe that Mr Akerman started the fire deliberately or that he was planning to spend the night in the squat.
She said: “The most likely thing is that he has gone to get his belongings.
“I cannot explain the start of the fire.
“For whatever reason, he was the person that started the fire.”
She recorded a verdict of accidental death with the cause being smoke inhalation with alcohol being a contributing factor.
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