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'Dettol Man' cleans himself to death

Obsession with cleanliness kills Manchester recluse

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A coroner has recorded a verdict of death by misadventure on a reclusive Manchester man whose obsession with cleanliness led local children to dub him "Dettol Man".

Jacques Niemand, 42, of Didsbury, died of "an inadequate supply of oxygen to his vital organs" provoked by over-exposure to Dettol, the Telegraph reports. The inquest heard that he "habitually placed buckets of Dettol around his flat", while the rooms were "littered" with bottles of the liquid.

Niemand's sister Ruth Bain explained that her brother had suffered from an "obsessive cleaning disorder" for some years, but didn't seek medical help "because he feared the prospect of being detained under the Mental Health Act". Accordingly, he hadn't seen his GP since 1992. Bain said: "He didn't want any help and was scared of receiving it."

Pathologist Dr Lorna McWilliam told the inquest it was "difficult to say whether [Niemand's] exposure to Dettol had been through ingestion or inhalation". She elaborated: "I cannot be sure his death arose through using an excessive amount at one time, but I suspect there must be an element of that."

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Manchester coroner Leonard Gorodkin described Niemand's demise as "a most unusual kind of death", admitting: "We do not know if death occurred quickly or over a period of time."

Gorodkin suggested the fatal dose might have arisen since Niemand "knew workmen were due to begin improvements to his flat on the day he died he may have wanted to make himself particularly clean". He did, however, disagree with Bain's suspicion that her brother had wanted to kill himself. He concluded: "If that had been the case the level of chlorate in his body would have been much higher." ®

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