Mystery remains over death of Telford's 'Pink Panther' graffiti artist
A graffiti artist found dead in a stream on Christmas Eve last year did not commit suicide, a coroner has ruled.
Patrick Mahon was fondly known as the Pink Panther after the Shropshire Star unveiled him as the creator of numerous pieces of street art across Telford.
An inquest at Wellington Civic Centre today heard the 42-year-old, formerly of Talbot Road in Trench, had been sleeping rough in a bush in Wellington bus station in the weeks leading up to his death.
He was found with his head submerged in a brook in Horton Lane on December 24 last year.
The inquest opened in July, when the hearing was told a post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death was drowning and there were no injuries consistent with being pushed or falling into the brook.
The coroner heard Mr Mahon was a highly intelligent man with an IQ of 165 whose life spiralled into chaos due to mental health problems.
The conclusion to the hearing was adjourned until today to allow evidence to be heard from West Mercia Police custody sergeant Russell Teece.
Sergeant Teece had released Mr Mahon from Malinsgate police station the night before he was found dead, after being charged with harassment.
Telford & Wrekin coroner Mr John Ellery asked him: "Did at any time Mr Mahon appear to you to be suicidal?"
Sgt Teece replied: "No, I wouldn't say that at all. He never expressed anything like that to me personally or to any of my colleagues."
Telford & Wrekin coroner Mr John Ellery recorded a narrative verdict into Mr Mohan's death.
It read: "Mr Mohan drowned in unknown circumstances, there being no evidence of suicide or third party involvement.
"Mr Mohan was a vulnerable adult and had earlier the previous evening been released from police custody with there being no lawful reason to detain him.
"While in custody he was assessed by medical and mental health practitioners."
The hearing had previously heard Mr Mahon was known to the police for public order offences, breach of the peace, assaults and criminal damage, and began sleeping rough when he was evicted from his home.
But Mr Mahon was also known for his colourful street art for which he first gained notoriety in the late 1990s by painting bright pink faces at Trench Lock and became known as the Pink Panther.
His mother Pauline Mahon, 64, of Church Street, Oakengates, told the inquest: "His art is something he will be remembered for."
Mrs Mahon said that after her son was made redundant from Epson he spent his time devising ways to brighten up his home town and make people smile.
She added: "When he was unveiled in the local press as being the artist he was truly happy."
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