TRAGIC END Celeb chef Russell Norman, 57, was found hanged in garden – as girlfriend desperately tried to save him, inquest hears

 Celebrity chef Russell Norman hanged himself in the garden of his home after a drunken argument, an inquest has heard.

The award-winning chef and restaurateur was found in the garden of his Kent home on November 18 last year and was taken to hospital.

The 57-year-old, who regularly appeared on BBC's Saturday Kitchen and presented The Restaurant Man, suffered severe brain damage.

Despite medical efforts to save him, he died five days later in hospital surrounded by his family and friends.

The investigation revealed that the amount of alcohol in his body was twice the legal drink-driving limit, and a conclusion of suicide by hanging was recorded.

The inquest, held at Oakwood House in Maidstone on Friday, heard he had gone into the garden of his home in Pluckley after arguing with girlfriend Dr Genevieve Verdigel.

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In a statement read out by coroner Katrina Hepburn, Dr Verdigel, an art historian, described how he later found Mr Norman lying unconscious in the garden.

She said: “I ran back inside to call 999.

"I was trying to do CPR. I was screaming and the people next door came over."

During resuscitation efforts a pulse was detected and paramedics took Mr Norman to William Harvey Hospital in nearby Ashford.

However, doctors revealed that he suffered brain damage and was placed on end-of-life care.

He died in hospital five days later on 23 November.

His inquest revealed that he was displaying "suicidal tendencies" before his death.

Norman's cause of death was ruled to be brain injury caused by hanging, with Ms. Hepburn recording a verdict of suicide.

Following the inquest, Dr Verdigel shared a photo of herself and Mr Norman on Instagram.

She also wrote: "It would be normal to talk about what Russell meant to me, what his character was, or what I learned from him.

"Those words have already been said, written and published by others. I will not talk about the atrocities I suffered at the hands of animals; those who need to know already know. And in that noise I have no intention of adding words.

“When all is said and done, you realize that the most important words are the ones that remain, and will remain, conversations between two people and that the rest of the world will never know about.

"And, at the end of the day, that's not the most important thing about the spoken word... It can never be imitated nor repeated. It's a moment in time. And once it When it's gone it's gone. Like a candle, destroyed in a puff of smoke. Yet the habit of smoking remains."

Tributes poured in following Norman's unexpected death, with former Saturday Kitchen host James Martin describing him as a 'giant' of the restaurant world.

Mr Norman was famous for pioneering the 'small plate' and no-reservations movement in his restaurants, notably at the popular Italian eateries Polpo and Brutto in London.

Her first book, Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of Sorts) won Waterstones Book of the Year in 2012 and, four years later, her second book, Spuntino – Comfort Food (New York Style) won the 2016 Guild of Food Writers Award. Award for best food and travel book.

He was later rewarded with his own BBC2 documentary series The Restaurant Man, in which he gave advice to would-be restaurant owners who had packed up their day jobs to pursue their dreams of opening a restaurant.

Following his death, former Saturday Kitchen host James Martin, 51, paid tribute to Norman in a post on We have lost Norman, who was and always will be an inspiration to so many."

Stefan Chomka, editor of Restaurant magazine, said: "He liked restaurants that were like him – with lots of charm and great character

"He had a real feeling of it

Hospitality, as well as joy, intelligence, generosity and an eye for detail.

"He had magpie instincts: he took inspiration from the restaurants of Italy, New York and London and brought them all together."

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