Australian man found dead in St Albans hotel room

Sopwell House Hotel

Sopwell House Hotel - Credit: Archant

A man who died from asphyxiation while staying at a luxury hotel in St Albans had been in “severe financial trouble which caused a lot of distress,” an inquest has been told.

Paul Alford, 54, of Drummoyne, a suburb of Sydney in Australia, was found dead in a room among a group of cottages at Sopwell House on June 20 last year.

During an inquest last Thursday, Coroner Edward Thomas said the death of Mr Alford, who had a family in Australia, was “very, very sad”.

He was unable to refer to Mr Alford’s medical records as the Herts Coroner’s Court “tried” but could not obtain them from Australia.

A post mortem report by Dr Matilda Ralph, of Hemel Hempstead Hospital, said there were injuries around Mr Alford’s neck. He had been found with a rope around his neck.


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The inquest was told by Sergeant Samantha Puddy that the police were called to Sopwell House after Mr Alford had been discovered by an “extremely distressed” staff member.

He had booked a room for June 18, intending to leave the next day, but extended his stay for one more night.

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On June 19 he had met a business partner, who had assumed Mr Alford intended returning to Australia.

A housekeeper who went to the room at check-out time on the morning of June 20 left after noticing a “do not disturb” sign on the door.

But after returning at 1pm, she knocked on the door and when she did not receive a reply, entered the room. Upon seeing Mr Alford, she immediately alerted other staff.

Mr Thomas said his death was “almost instantaneous, the cause of death was asphyxiation”.

He said no note had been found in the room, and Scenes of Crime Officers reported there were no suspicious circumstances.

Mr Thomas said: “Paul did the act that caused his death. There was no third party involvement.”

He said that given the manner of his death, “he would have known there was only one inevitable consequence.”

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