Inquest into the death of popular soloist from Eastbourne

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Court news.
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The death of a “popular, intelligent and funny” Eastbourne man has highlighted the long term effects of drugs used by people living with HIV.

Pablo Fernandez-Arias Cazorla had been taking the specialist prescribed drug Efavirenz after being diagnosed as HIV positive more than 20 years ago, an inquest heard on Thursday.

But last summer his medication was changed to a newer drug Stribild.

Within weeks, his family said, 45-year-old Mr Cazorla, who lived in Pevensey Road, was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, had quit his job as a claims handler and was having suicidal thoughts.

Added to that, he was suffering from chronic fatigue and insomnia, feared he would be diagnosed with ME, and felt he could not carry on with life either mentally or physically.

The inquest into his death – after he was found at the foot of cliffs at Beachy Head on December 28 last year – heard Mr Cazorla was born in Madrid but had lived in England for a number of years.

He was a prominent member of the Gay Men’s Choruses in Madrid, London and Brighton, a talented soloist and friends and his husband Andrew Mapstone said he was an “intelligent, funny, very kind and joyful presence”, a very spiritual person, a Reiki practitioner who was passionate about civil justice.

The inquest heard tourist Ron Stanley was walking on the beach last Christmas near Beachy Head Lighthouse when he saw Mr Cazorla fall from the clifftop.

Mr Stanley, from Surrey, called emergency services and Mr Cazorla’s body was airlifted by the coastguard helicopter to Eastbourne District General Hospital.

Earlier that day he had been seen at one of a number of his regular sessions by mental health nurses after his GP Dr Catherine Jones from the Lighthouse Medical Practice, who was so concerned about her patient, had urgently referred him to the Crisis Team in October and diagnosed depression.

Nurse Bryan Henley said in a one to one session on that day Mr Cazorla said he was having suicidal thoughts and because of his low moods and constant fatigue was “increasingly despairing at his lack of usefulness”.

He had left the session but instead of returning home, went to Beachy Head.

Some time before his death he had also taken an overdose of tablets.

The inquest heard Mr Cazorla had been receiving medication for HIV at the HIV Clinic in Eastbourne’s Avenue House.

Mr Cazorla’s family and friends said they had no doubts that because of his low moods and his increasing fatigue, he intended to take his own life but expressed concern during the 90 minute hearing that not enough was known about the long term side effects of HIV medication.

Recording a verdict of suicide while the balance of Mr Cazorla’s mind was disturbed, East Sussex coroner Alan Craze said he could reach no other conclusion.

In February this year the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus performed a Tribute Concert to celebrate the life of Mr Cazorla at the Phil Starr Pavilion and held a collection for mental health charities during LGBT History Month.

The Samaritans’ new free helpline number is 116 123. Calls to this helpline number do not appear on phone bills. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone who is struggling to cope.