Drowned man 'tried to walk on water'

12:22pm Thursday 15th May 2008

By Sam Underwood

A man who thought he was the Messiah drowned after trying to walk on water, an inquest heard.

Howard Bloomstein's naked body was found floating in the sea off Brighton by lifeboat crews on January 6 this year.

His clothes and mobile phone were found on the beach opposite Sackville Gardens, Hove.

At the Brighton inquest into his death held yesterday, one of Mr Bloomstein's psychiatrists, Emile Ibrahim, said: "He might have tried to walk on water thinking he was the Messiah."

The inquest heard that Mr Bloomstein, who owned a flat in Kingsway Court, Hove, had been staying at a hostel for psychiatric patients since November 15 last year.

The inquest heard Mr Bloomstein's psychosis had developed over his life into paranoid schizophrenia.

It emerged that on March 6 last year, Mr Bloomstein had travelled to London where he told armed police at Downing Street that he wanted to speak to Prime Minister Tony Blair about "secret information".

He told the officers he worked for the Queen as a private investigator and full-time in MI6.

He wrote a letter to the Queen asking her to let him become Prime Minister as Tony Blair was "building a fascist regime".

Describing himself to Dr Ibrahim as a "rare breed", Mr Bloomstein said his medical team were trying to "make him extinct".

He also believed the Mafia were trying to kill him and that he was under constant surveillance.

Mr Bloomstein told doctors he was "a prophet, conversing with God" and planned to have a "special, spiritual child" with a fellow patient.

His mother described how on the day before he died, he had talked in a "biblical tongue" as they sat in a busy restaurant having lunch.

Dr Ibrahim said Mr Bloomstein found living alone difficult and wanted to live in a structured environment where authority was in control. The inquest heard that his first contact with mental health services was when he was 17 and had visited his GP complaining of a loss of happiness.

He apparently confessed to having committed a robbery while high on ecstasy and also also told doctors he had taken cocaine, magic mushrooms and cannabis in his younger years.

Dr Ibrahim said that despite Mr Bloomstein's paranoia and delusions, he had not made any attempts to kill himself and said he was "shocked" at his death because it was so unexpected.

John Hooper, deputy coroner for Brighton and Hove, said there was no evidence that Mr Bloomstein, who had previously trained as a diamond mounter in the jewellery trade, had entered the sea with the intention of killing himself.

Tests found that he died as a result of drowning. Recording an open verdict, the deputy coroner said Mr Bloomstein had been killed both by the seawater he drowned in and by his paranoid schizophrenia which was more than just a contributory factor.

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