Eastbourne: Inquest Into James Bond Actor's Death

14 November 2013, 14:04

Actor Paul Bhattacharjee was declared bankrupt shortly before he committed suicide at cliffs, an inquest has heard.

The 53-year-old, who had starred in James Bond film Casino Royale and EastEnders, was a "proud'' man who would not have wanted the bankruptcy becoming public knowledge, his partner said.

In a statement read in court, Emma McKie added: "I do believe that Paul would take his own life.

"He had a darkness inside him that was irreparable.''

Mr Bhattacharjee, who lived in Elephant and Castle, was last seen leaving rehearsals in London on July 10, the inquest at Eastbourne Magistrates' Court was told.

Following his disappearance, Ms McKie opened some letters in his flat and discovered he had been declared bankrupt the day before, on July 9.

She added in her statement: "He was a proud and protective man and he couldn't have handled the bankruptcy becoming public knowledge.

"He would not have wanted to let me down or hurt me or his friends.

"The bankruptcy was the final straw after a life of major highs and lows.''

Describing him as a beautiful and loving man, she said he had a close knit group of friends, including three or four he had known since his 20s.

"He put on a hard exterior to those at work but protected himself,'' Ms McKie went on.

"I knew about his past and the pain inside him, and I could see it in his eyes.''

The body of the actor, whose full name was Gautam Paul Bhattacharjee, was spotted near cliffs in Seaford, East Sussex, on July 12.

There was no evidence of drugs and only a small blood alcohol reading of 42mg per 100ml, according to a report by toxicologist Andrew Smith, of the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

A post-mortem examination carried out by pathologist Dr David Wright found that his cause of death was from multiple injuries.

Ms McKie last saw her partner on July 10 when he had complained about having a bad stomach.

She called him at 7pm that night to say she was on her way home.

He texted her later to say he was very late and told her to have dinner without him.

A final text message received by Ms McKie at 9.16pm that night included the words: "I'm sorry.''

A member of the public reported seeing what they thought was a body at cliffs below Splash Point in Seaford on the evening of July 12, and it was later recovered.

Initial inquiries to try to find out who the man was proved fruitless.

Then, on July 17, a colleague of coroner's officer Karen Brown saw an article online about the disappearance of Mr Bhattacharjee.

Sussex Police liaised with the Metropolitan Police and the body was confirmed as that of Mr Bhattacharjee later that day, the inquest was told.

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze later received an anonymous letter disclosing that his death was deliberate and "linking it wholly and entirely to his bankruptcy''.

Tributes poured in from colleagues across stage and screen following the death of the star, who had also appeared in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, White Teeth and Dirty Pretty Things.

Meera Syal, who appeared alongside him in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Much Ado about Nothing, said: "Paul was an incredibly gifted versatile and generous actor but also complex, deep thinking, engagingly opinionated and politically committed as a personality, truly wonderful to share a stage with.''

Tributes were also paid on Twitter, with director Jamie Lloyd writing: "Very sad to hear about the death of Paul Bhattacharjee.

"He was a very fine actor.

"My thoughts are with his family.''

Muzz Khan, who appeared in Much Ado About Nothing alongside the late actor, said: ``Rest In Peace, Paul Bhattacharjee.

"I can't believe you're gone, mate.''

Playwright Duncan Gates wrote: ``'When you depart from me sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave'.

"RIP Paul Paul Bhattacharjee.''

Following his disappearance, Bend It Like Beckham actress Parminder Nagra, Sex in the City star Kim Cattrall and Stephen Fry - who went missing for a week in 1995 - appealed to their Twitter followers for information about the actor.

Mr Bhattacharjee played a doctor in Casino Royale in 2006 and was in several episodes of EastEnders as Masood's brother Inzamam between 2008 and 2010.

Other television credits for the actor included Waking the Dead, Spooks and The Bill.

Detective Sergeant David Tye, of Sussex Police, told the inquest there was no indication anyone else played a part in the actor's death.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, Mr Craze said: "There isn't scope at all in this case and therefore the conclusion of this inquest will be that Gautam Paul Bhattacharjee took his own life whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed.''

Mr Craze added: `"He was extremely depressed at the time.

"This was a huge tragedy for a lot of people.''