Kent

Maxwell Bates-Spiers inquest: Polish police probe criticised

Max Spiers
Image caption Mr Bates-Spiers had told his mother he feared he might be murdered, the inquest heard

A coroner has branded police who dealt with the death of a UK man in Poland "wholly incompetent" after hearing they halted their initial investigation.

Maxwell Bates-Spiers, described at his inquest as a conspiracy theorist, died at a friend's house in Warsaw after taking a powerful anxiety drug.

The inquest in Sandwich heard police stopped investigating after a doctor said the death was from natural causes.

Days earlier he had told his mother he feared he might be murdered.

Coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks said Mr Bates-Spiers died from pneumonia and drug intoxication.

But he criticised the initial probe by Polish investigators.

He said: "Max was a conspiracy theorist, and a well-known one at that. If there was anything that was bound to excite the interest of other conspiracy theorists, it was the wholly incompetent initial investigation into his death."

'No further investigation'

The three-day inquest heard that Mr Bates-Spiers, 39, from Canterbury, was a journalist who dealt in conspiracy theories.

He went to the house of a friend, Monika Duval, in Warsaw after speaking at an environmental conference in the city in July 2016.

She told the hearing in a statement that he had fallen asleep after taking about 10 tablets of a Turkish form of Xanax - bought during a holiday in Cyprus, where it can be obtained without a prescription - and then stopped breathing.

One of the two police officers called by paramedics said in a statement: "After the doctor said the death was due to natural causes, we somehow didn't delve into it.

"There was no examination or further investigation."

'I might be murdered'

Mr Bates-Spiers' mother, Vanessa Bates, told the hearing that her son sent her a message shortly before he died.

It said: "If anything happens to me, look into it, investigate."

She added: "He even said, 'I think I might be murdered'."

A post-mortem examination found deadly levels of opioid oxycodone in his system.

Mr Sutton-Mattocks said the pneumonia and drugs had "caused aspiration of gastric contents".

Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Polish prosecutors said Mr Bates-Spiers was a journalist who dealt with conspiracy theories

More on this story

Around the BBC