MYSTERY still surrounds the death of an artist whose body was found severely decomposed at his flat.

Russell Jones, 53, suffered from mental and physical health problems and had a history of poor diet, untidiness and self-neglect.

He had asthma, type-two diabetes and schizophrenia, and was taking medication for all of these conditions, an inquest heard.


Mr Jones, from Hove, attended an art class once a week in Brighton at a mental health day care centre, which he would never miss.

But when the day centre stopped and he struggled to find anywhere else to go he became isolated.

Debbie Bennett, a staff member at Museum Mentors, Brighton, worked with him at the day centre. She said the day centre’s closure had “a huge impact” on him and his health “severely deteriorated”.

She said: “He went from having three to five hours of contact a week to just seeing his carer on a fortnightly basis which is a big change for someone as vulnerable as Mr Jones.”

Miss Bennett said he was a “very sweet man” and hoped to exhibit some of his artwork in the museum next year.

She said it was clear he put his art before his health.

Mr Jones’s flat was arranged to be cleaned fortnightly, but since new cleaners started at the beginning of 2018, Mr Jones did not like them entering his flat and touching his belongings the court heard.

His sister, Ioma Jones, 64, raised concerns after he failed to reply to several messages.

His carer, Nick Saich, had been to the flat on May 23 to leave a note for Mr Jones and mentioned a “bad smell”.

Ms Jones called the police, who found Mr Jones’s body on May 24 at his home in Brunswick Road at 1.52pm.

Mr Jones, who had a good record for attendance, had failed to turn up to several appointments in the weeks leading up to his death, the inquest heard.

Sudden death

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said staff at mental health trust Sussex Partnership should have flagged up Mr Jones’s lack of attendance and taken immediate action.

Frank Melon from Sussex Partnership Trust said he would make sure missed appointments were flagged up in future.

Pathologist David Wright said the schizophrenia medication could cause sudden death in rare cases.

Dr Wright said this was likely, given Mr Jones’s history of anorexia, dental problems and 50-a-day smoking habit.

Philip Brown, a friend of Mr Jones’s for 20 years, said he was a man “with so much musical and artistic talent” and always had “original suggestions for music to listen to.”

Miss Hamilton-Deeley concluded the cause of Mr Jones’s death was unascertained because his body had been badly decomposed.

She said she was surprised his medical carers could not tell her more about Mr Jones’s character.

She said: “The evidence does not tell me how he came about his death. However, the deterioration of his health is a contributing factor.

“He was clearly a talented man and the fact that friends have shown up today shows he clearly made an impression on many people.