'Brilliant' person took own life in one of 'most complex' sudden death cases in Portsmouth prompting hazardous response team

A ‘BRILLIANT’ person tipped for a bright future took his life in mysterious circumstances - sparking one of the most complex sudden death cases ever known by a detective, an inquest heard.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 4:55 am

Emergency crews and Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) rushed to Ravelin Park, Museum Road in Old Portsmouth, on March 26 this year around 5pm before the area was cordoned off for hours amid safety concerns.

The body of Belgian national Brecht Uytterschaut was found on his 25th birthday in bushes with a liquid bottle recovered in a clear plastic bag nearby.

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Incident at Museum Road, Portsmouth. Pic Stu Vaizey

With emergency crews ‘having no idea’ what the substance initially was, the HART team, wearing full safety attire, were tasked with checking the deceased.

Det Sgt James Southcombe was among the emergency professionals first on scene.

‘We all worked together to mitigate the risk to other people,’ he told Hampshire Coroner’s Court in Winchester.

‘The HART team were requested to approach Brecht’s body. After they had examined the body they informed me the death was not suspicious.

Museum Road incident. Pic Stu Vaizey

‘Brecht was removed in a body bag bearing in mind the chemical risk.’

Brecht’s family were duly informed by Interpol of his death after checks were carried out of the computer programmer’s Landport address.

The detective added: ‘It was one of the most complex sudden deaths I have ever been to. It was really complex how we had to manage the risk.’

Emergency crews were at the scene for around five hours with the HART team remaining overnight.

Det Sgt Southcombe told the inquest police recovered a computer tablet from Brecht’s address but police IT specialists were unable to access it. ‘He had brilliant technical ability. We could not get into it. It would have taken us years it was so well protected,’ he said.

Pathologist Rob Chapman said tests showed there was ‘severe intoxication’ of the poison – which The News is not naming – in the deceased’s system.

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said there was ‘a lot of complexity’ involved in identifying the cause of death - which had been exacerbated by hospitals across the country rejecting requests to carry out the post mortem amid concerns over the substance.

The hearing was told of how Brecht, who worked as a computer programmer for Climax Studios in Portsmouth, had struggled with depression for years and had received therapy and medical treatments in Belgium.

His mental health deteriorated again while in the UK with him sectioned in February.

He was released into the community with psychiatrist Dr Anand Abraham telling the inquest he was ‘stable’ and taking anti-depressant medication.

Brecht’s parents Ells and Bart questioned why they could not find out more information when contacting the NHS trust about their son.

But they said: ‘We believe Brecht was very well informed and was playing the game and knew what to say to get his liberty.’

They added: ‘We do not have bad feelings to anybody as we don’t believe anyone could have saved him.’

Ms Rhodes-Kemp concluded that Brecht had taken his own life. ‘He felt life was meaningless and had low self-esteem and did not believe he was valuable. But none of those self perceptions were shared by anyone else,’ she said.

‘He was popular and well-liked.’

For support, call Samaritans on 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258.

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