Jobless man, 38, who saw Lee Rigby being hacked to death hangs himself after suffering years of trauma
- Danny Cornelius witnessed horrific murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013
- The unemployed 38-year-old became a recluse after witnessing the attack
- He was found hanged in his grandparent’s garden in Gravesend in July
A 38-year-old man who suffered years of trauma after witnessing Fusilier Lee Rigby being hacked to death in the street by two Islamist fanatics has hanged himself.
Danny Cornelius was found dead in the garden of his grandparent’s home in Gravesend, Kent in July after suffering years of torment following the horrific attack.
He had suffered years of mental illness but it was compounded when he witnessed Mr Rigby being hacked to death by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale.
The soldier was murdered by the British Muslim converts near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London – the same street that Mr Cornelius lived.
Mr Cornelius, who was unemployed and had never married or had children, became a recluse after the attack and rarely left his home, an inquest heard this week.
As well as witnessing the murder, he had also suffered a number of traumatic events himself, after being the victim of two armed robberies when he was younger.
As a teenager, his gold chain was stolen at knifepoint and just a couple of years later, he was forced to withdraw money from a cashpoint and hand it over.
After the crimes, he suffered with paranoid schizophrenia, and when his friends started to get married and have children he became disconnected from them.
The tipping point was in 2013, when Mr Rigby was hacked to death in the street by by Adebolajo and Adebowale, who are both now serving life sentences.
Speaking at an inquest into his death at Maidstone Coroner’s Court, Detective Sargeant Sivarajah said: ‘Mr Cornelius witnessed much of what happened. It would have been a huge trauma. It shook the whole community.
‘The violence and perpetrators of that would have brought up his own previous experiences.
Mr Cornelius had suffered years of mental illness but it was compounded hen he witnessed Mr Rigby being hacked to death by Michael Adebolajo (left) and Michael Adebowale (right).
‘After that he became more isolated. He still visited his family, but he mainly stayed indoors.’
Another run of bad luck also compounded his already delicate mental state after the attack.
He had previously worked as a courier and went for a promotion but didn’t get the job, deeply affecting him to the point where he gave up working altogether.
An elderly neighbour then gave him some purpose and kept him busy, asking him to help her do her food shopping, but she later passed away.
On occasions he also forgot to take his medication, despite the best effort of his parents, who spoke to him on a daily basis to make sure he kept up his dosage, the inquest heard.
Mr Cornelius would often stay at his grandparents’ home and visited them on July 20 this year. He decided to stay an extra day, and get his hair cut, but they could not take him into town.
Lee Rigby was murdered by the British Muslim converts near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London (crime scene, pictured) – the same street that Mr Cornelius lived.
DS Sivarajah said: ‘He was upset about this and went out into the garden.’
Mr Cornelius appeared to be standing at the back of the garden for some time, so his grandfather, Kenneth went out, but discovered him dead.
An ambulance was called but he could not be saved.
The cause of death was given as hanging. There was no third party involvement and no suicide note was left.
Coroner Roger Hatch recorded an open verdict.