Editorial

Sunday 13 July 2014

The black curse strikes Guinness dynasty again

Jerome Reilly

Published 12/06/2005|00:11

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THE curse of the Guinness clan has struck again. The latest victim is a wealthy landowner killed by a cocktail of heroin, cocaine and drink - addictions that have reaped a bitter harvest from the brewing family in the past.

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Robert Hesketh, a 48-year-old father-of-three, died in his sleep after taking the drugs at a country house party in Wiltshire in Britain last year. Mr Hesketh's body was found by his wife, Catherine, daughter of the Guinness heir, Lord Moyne, in their locked bedroom the morning after the party in November.

She told an inquest in Salisbury that she had been unable to get into the room at the home of the Guinness family, near Marlborough, during the early hours of the morningafter an 18th birthday celebration for the eldest son oftheir hosts.

She told the inquest she was unaware of her husband's drug use, adding that she spent a lot of time at their London home and it was possible he was taking them without her knowledge.

Mr Hesketh, a close friend of musician Jools Holland, was found dead when Erskine Guinness broke into the room at Fosbury Manor.

Dr Adnam Al-Badri, a pathologist, told the inquest that Mr Hesketh died from central nervous system depression and heroin toxicity with alcohol and cocaine.

He said death would have been a gradual process, with a deep sleep and finally the heart stopping.

The 1,600-acre Churchtown estate has now passed to Mr Hesketh's only son and heir, 11-year-old Frank.

It will be held in trust until the youngster reaches 18. Mr Hesketh was also father to 13-year-old twins Anna and Violet and stepfather to Dick, 20, and Mary Charteris, 17.

The tragic circumstances of his death are not without precedent in the Guinness family.

Even Arthur Guinness, who started the brewery in 1759, and founded the dynasty, also had a life tainted by tragedy, despite amassing his vast stout fortune.

He fathered 21 children but lost 10 before his own death.

He did not live to see many of his grandchildren turn to drink, and a couple end up in mental institutions. Others who did not inherit his business acumen ended their lives in dire poverty.

Later in the family history, the first Lord Moyne, then British minister for Middle East affairs, was murdered in Cairo by the Zionist terror group, the Stern Gang, in 1944, leading to the legend of a Guinness Curse.

Just weeks before the end of the Second World War, the Hon Arthur Onslow Edward Guinness, Viscount Elveden, who was the 33-year-old heir to the family business, was killed in action.

In the last three decades, a series of bizarre and tragic events added further to the family's reputation of being star-crossed.

Lady Henrietta Guinness, Lord Iveagh's sister, jumped off a bridge at Spoleto - the ancient cultural city inUmbria, Italy.

Lady Guinness had never recovered from injuries received when the love of her life, Michael Beeby, crashed his flame-red Aston Martin in the French Riviera. She said once: "If I had been poor, I would have been happy."

Fatal car crashes claimed other members of the family. Four-year-old Peter Guinness was killed in Norfolk in 1978.

In the Sixties, a road accident claimed the life of Patrick 'Tara' Guinness, son of British MP Loel Guinness.

Tara Browne, son of Oonagh, Lady Oranmore, was also killed in a car crash. Tara Browne was a friend of Rolling Stone Brian Jones and John Lennon. On December 18, 1966, he drove his Lotus Elan at high speeds through red lights in South Kensington, smashing into a van and killing himself.

His death inspired the John Lennon song, A Day in the Life, which features the lines: "He blew his mind out in a car.

He didn't notice that the lights had changed."

Olivia Channon, the beautiful daughter of former British Secretary of State Paul Channon, was killed through drugs, and her 18-year-old cousin Natalya Citkowitz also died from heroin abuse.

She was injecting herself with heroin when she fell head-first off the toilet seat and drowned in a bath filled with water.

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