FORMER Falmouth mayor David Breacker died alone in his “filthy” home only days after his 72nd birthday, following years of self neglect and alcohol abuse despite numerous attempts to help him, an inquest heard last week.
Mr Breacker, who had been mayor between 1998 and 2000, had been living at Tregaer Flats in Melvill Road, having moved there after his previous home had become “unfit for human habitation” because of his self-neglect and refusal to clean around him.
When discovered on February 3 he was lying on his side in his bedroom, naked from the waist down and wearing stereo headphones with the stereo still plugged in. There were faeces on the floor and on the bedspread and the flat was littered with alcohol bottles.
His GP Dr Nick Rogers said in a statement that Mr Breacker had suffered from self neglect, poor nutrition and from chronic alcohol intake. He had been seen several times, most recently for leg ulcers which were being dressed by nurses.
As well as seeing his GP and nurses, Mr Breacker was under the care of the education, health and social care team at Cornwall Council who would make weekly deliveries of shopping to his home and continually tried to help him further.
Manager Sarah Williams said they got involved in 2011 because of Mr Breacker’s self and environmental neglect, his poor personal care and his alcohol intake. “We were concerned for the reasons of his alcohol intake and the impact that was having on his daily living,” she said. “Throughout the three years he was known to us there were numerous attempts made.
“It appears that Mr Breacker when intoxicated was difficult to engage with. When he was sober he was very amenable, charming and very articulate and would accept assistance. He did on occasion agree to respite (where he could have a shower/bath and hot meal), but when the time came for that he would refuse to go.
“He did have a lot of intervention and he built up such a good rapport with the worker in Falmouth that she would visit him ad hoc to make sure he was OK.”
The inquest heard that a post mortem had revealed that Mr Breacker had had pre-existing heart disease, lung disease with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a fatty liver which was consistent with chronic alcohol abuse. There was also evidence of pneumonia.
It also revealed that he had consumed alcohol shortly before his death and that the levels in his blood registered at 296 when the legal driving limit is 80 and toxic level is about 400.
Assistant coroner for Cornwall, Andrew Cox confirmed that the cause of death was (a) alcoholic ketoacidosis and bronchial pneumonia with (b) COPD and alcohol intoxication. He recorded a verdict of death by natural causes of which self neglect had contributed.
Mr Cox said that Mr Breacker’s lifestyle had been chaotic and there had been a long history of alcohol abuse which led to the associated problems. He said: “There has been a period of time where Mr Breacker has been known to adult services and has been offered support by them in the form of respite care, a care package and a whole range of other options most of which he has steadfastly refused or accepted when sober only to change his mind when in drink.
“He has not been eating properly for a long time and the accommodation he was living in was frankly filthy.”
*Mr Breacker had been surprised and delighted to have been elected mayor of Falmouth for the first time in 1998. He said after being sworn in: “I did not expect to achieve this office. It is somewhat of a miracle. I want to do my best and be worthy of it and that will be to the forefront of my intentions.”
At the time, Mr Breacker, a bachelor, had been living at Swanpool where he had shared a home with his mother until her death 18 months before he took office. He had been a keen amateur astronomer and had backed plans for a planetarium and observatory in Falmouth.