Coroner concludes Romford dad’s death by falling from penthouse flat in Brazil was an accident

PUBLISHED: 17:01 10 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:01 10 January 2020

The inquest into the deaths of Vera and John Savage resumed at Walthamstow Coroner's Court yesterday. Picture: Goole Streetview

The inquest into the deaths of Vera and John Savage resumed at Walthamstow Coroner's Court yesterday. Picture: Goole Streetview


A Romford dad’s fatal fall from a penthouse apartment in Brazil was the result of an accident, a coroner concluded at an inquest today (Friday, January 10).

Samuel Schwarz from Union Road, died on December 12, 2017 while on holiday in the coastal town of Ipanema in Brazil.

Walthamstow Coroner's Court heard that two months before his death, Samuel made a self-referral to a private psychiatrist in Basildon.

The doctor diagnosed Samuel with paranoid anxiety and gave him some medication.

Samuel's friends, Joe Williams and Charlie Fisher, were aware of his diagnosis when they went on holiday with him to Brazil in December.

But both of his friends said Samuel had been acting as normal.

The 29-year-old travelled to Brazil first and his friends joined him two days later.

Joe told the court that the trio spent the majority of their evenings at Brazilian clubs and that on occasion Samuel would have too much to drink.

On the fifth, and last night of their trip, they spent their day on the beach before going out to a club at around midnight.

"Halfway home Sam decided that he wanted to go back," said Joe.

He didn't see Samuel again until it was around 3.30am in the morning.

Joe said: "He woke us up banging on the bedroom door, telling us that we needed to get up and have a drink.

"He said 'it's the last night, get up, get up'. I said, 'I'm staying in bed leave us alone'."

Joe was then woken up again by the police banging on the door of their apartment.

Charlie added that he had also been woken up by Samuel complaining that someone in the building was trying to control the volume of his music, but Charlie dismissed this as Samuel's paranoia and told him to go back to sleep.

When Charlie and Joe couldn't find Samuel in his bedroom, the police took them to the third level of the penthouse flat.

"The police looked over the side and one of them laughed," said Joe.

"They walked us back down to the middle level and said 'your friend is dead'.

"At first I thought they were trying to scare us and then I looked over and I saw Sam at the bottom."

A porter had heard a loud sound at around 5.30am and had alerted the police after discovering a body hanging on a pergola outside the building.

Samuel's body was found with a kitchen knife lying on the ground beside him.

His family members were concerned that Samuel had sent a "warning message" with the name of a woman and the word "ASAP" to a friend in England, an hour before his death.

Assistant Corner for east London, Ian Wade, said he was sure that the woman had nothing to do with his death and that it was unlikely anyone else could have been in the flat.

The front door could only be accessed by three keys which were all found inside the flat in the morning.

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Joe and Charlie spoke of, "the terrible experience" of discovering that their friend was dead and having to spend the day being questioned by the police.

Joe insisted that no-one could have entered the flat.

He said: "Sam was one of my best friends, I loved him like a brother.

"I have no reason to hold anything back from you."

Mr Wade read out translated police reports from Brazil which revealed that the authorities had found cocaine capsules and marijuana waste bags on the table in the penthouse flat.

A Brazillian criminal specialist and lead investigator concluded that the cause of death was a brain injury, abdominal trauma and blunt force trauma.

A toxic substance report on Sam's blood came back negative for drugs, but showed that he had an ethanol level of 167mg per 100ml in his blood - two times over the legal limit for driving.

Mr Wade said: "However it doesn't follow that he was so intoxicated as to be incapable.

"Sam sent a serious and hard to explain text message one hour before [his death].

"On the basis of the evidence I come to a conclusion that it was possibly drink fuelled, possibly a manifestation of his anxiety.

"I don't think there was anybody else present and I don't think Sam was being sensible.

"His drunkenness and lack of common sense got in the way at the moment that he got too close to an open window.

"Sometimes awful things happened and an awful thing happened to Sam."

Samuel's dad, Keith Williams said he was trained in judo and that he had fought at a senior level in the Netherlands, Germany and France.

He said: "Sam was very competitive in whatever he did. He was everyone's protector.

"Sam was looking forward to going back to Jenny for the birth of his baby.

"On Dec 12 I received a phone call from Jenny [Samuel's wife] in a tone of voice I will never forget.

"To this day I still can't imagine nor accept how this has happened."

Sam and his wife, Jenny, were "childhood sweethearts" and had a daughter together.

Jenny was pregnant with their second child at the time of Samuel's death abroad.

She described her late husband as "very caring with a big heart".

"We had a lovely home and were lucky enough to go on many holidays which was one of Sam's favourite things to do in life," said Jenny.

"He was partial to a nice brandy and coke."

The mum-of-two added that she spoke to Samuel the night before the incident and said how much he missed his daughter.

She said: "There is no doubt in my mind that Sam would have ever even thought about taking his own life."

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