Man found dead in Sussex town a day after moving there

Sean Sweeney's body was found at the bottom of a set of steps in Pelham Crescent, Hastings
Sean Sweeney's body was found at the bottom of a set of steps in Pelham Crescent, Hastings

A man whose body was found at the bottom of some steps in a Sussex town had moved to the county the day before his death, an inquest heard.

Sean Sweeney, 39, from Redhill, in Surrey, moved into a flat in Pelham Crescent, Hastings, with his uncle Peter Graham on October 19, 2018.

At approximately 7.20am on October 20, his body was found by a cleaner at the bottom of six steps which led to a crypt near St Mary in the Castle.

An inquest into his death, held in Hastings on Tuesday (March 26), heard Mr Sweeney had been out drinking with his uncle on the night of October 19 to celebrate moving into their new flat.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Graham said his nephew had suffered from depression since losing sight in one eye after being assaulted in a nightclub in Brighton in March 2010.

Mr Graham told the court: “I had a mental breakdown previously. (Mr Sweeney) wanted to live with me because I had been through depression.

“He wanted me to do something to get him through.”

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After collecting the keys to their new flat at about 3pm on October 19, Mr Sweeney and Mr Graham went into Hastings to have celebratory drinks.

Mr Graham said they went to Pissarro’s, near Priory Meadow, to listen to reggae music before Mr Sweeney left to visit Crowleys Bar, near Hastings railway station, without his uncle.

Mr Graham said he went to check on his nephew after the music had finished at about 11pm and found him at the bar in Crowleys Bar talking to a woman.

After a short discussion, Mr Graham said he left his nephew in the bar while he went home to bed.

He told the inquest he woke the following day at 10.10am and called his nephew who had not returned to the flat.

While ringing him Mr Graham said he spotted police outside his flat but thought nothing of it until he saw Mr Sweeney’s shoes sticking out from under a blanket.

Mr Sweeney was pronounced dead at 8.01am, the court heard.

A post-mortem examination carried out at Conquest Hospital on October 26 found Mr Sweeney had suffered a skull fracture and a build-up of fluid around the brain.

A toxicology report, read to the court, found Mr Sweeney had 322 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his system – more than four times the drink drive limit – at the time of his death.

Senior coroner for East Sussex Alan Craze said Mr Sweeney would have been ‘very drunk indeed’ and would not have been conscious once he had fallen.

Detective Sergeant Dominic Brown told the court he was satisfied there was no third party involvement in the fall and said finding Mr Sweeney’s phone and money in his possession suggested it was unlikely he had been attacked or robbed.

Mr Craze returned a conclusion of accidental death.

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