Sunday 11 December 2016

Trinny Woodall's ex-husband told police officer he wanted to kill himself over 'terrible investments in oil'

Entrepreneur Jonathan Elichaoff told PC he was depressed 'because I've lost a lot of money' days before he was seen 'rolling' himself off roof, inquest hears

Victoria Ward

Published 11/11/2015 | 10:52

Trinny Woodall and her late ex-husband Johnny Elichaoff
Trinny Woodall and her late ex-husband Johnny Elichaoff
Trinny Woodall and Jonny Elichaoff in 1999
Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky

The former husband of television presenter Trinny Woodall - said to be a member of a so-called "ring of death" targeted by the Russian mafia - was depressed because he had made some "terrible investments in oil" shortly before he plunged to his death from a rooftop carpark, an inquest heard

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Johnny Elichaoff, 55, died after falling from Whiteleys shopping centre in west London last November. He was one of a close-knit group of six men, which included wealthy tycoon Scot Young, alleged to have died in strange circumstances and friends expressed fears that they were all targeted by the Russian mafia.

But despite initial reports that his death had been accompanied by the sound of gunshots, a witness told Westminster Coroner's Court that she had seen Mr Elichaoff alone on the roof and had watched him deliberately "roll" himself off.

The inquest also heard that Mr Elichaoff, who was addicted to prescription drugs, had "repeatedly" visited the shopping centre in the fortnight before his death, apparently intending to make the 50-foot jump.

Two weeks previously, he had been briefly sectioned by police under the Mental Health Act after being found at the same location.

PC Jonathan Fenton said in a statement that on that occasion, he had driven Mr Elichaoff to a mental health unit, where the former musician and entrepreneur had told him: "I'm depressed because I've lost a lot of money through some terrible investments in oil.

"I've lost everything and I don't know what to do. I feel stupid now that I wanted to kill myself. I've got nothing left."

He was released from the hospital, but on November 12 returned to the scene and threw himself from the building.

Witness Shpresa Vitia said she had driven to the shopping centre that day to meet her mother and spotted Mr Elichaoff sitting alone on the ledge of the car park, having climbed over the barrier.

"Although this seemed very strange, it seemed he knew exactly what he was doing," she told the court. "He seemed very coordinated and was positioning himself."

Ms Vitia said she took "baby steps" towards him and asked if he was OK and if he needed anything. By this time, he had laid down on the ledge and, without looking at her, said he was "fine and was just having a rest".

"He spoke with a very reassuring voice. I don't think he wanted me to panic," she added.

Ms Vitia said there were two men walking across the car park, but they did not see her and she did not want to shout out in case it "affected the situation".

She turned towards the shopping centre, but kept looking back and eventually, she said he just "rolled off".

"I saw him right in front of my eyes," she added. "It was deliberate."

 Police officers and paramedics called to the scene said initial reports suggested that someone had been shot but, that the theory was soon dismissed.

A toxicology report found that the businessman, from Notting Hill, west London, had high levels of several painkillers in his system. It concluded that his death was caused by multiple traumatic injuries with multiple drug use as a contributing factor.

The former drummer was married to Ms Woodall, a television presenter, for 10 years and is the father of her 12–year-old daughter, Lyla.

Her brother, Mark Woodall, read a statement to the inquest on behalf of his sister in which she said her former husband had been "gripped with the disease of addiction" for 20 years.

She added: "Even in his darkest moments he was always there for those that needed him, with unconditional love and support.

"As a person, he had the best sense of humour. He was unconditionally kind, he never spoke ill of other people, he was heartfelt in his advice and had the ability to always make people feel better once they had confided in him about their problems."

She said he lived with chronic pain as a result of a motorbike accident in his thirties, which "made it impossible for him not to reengage with his previous addiction."

She added: "Over 800 people came to mourn at his funeral. At his greatest time of need, he never felt able to ask for help himself.

"He had a heart attack in his head and he could no longer find the strength to deal with his physical and emotional pain."

Asst Coroner Russell Caller concluded that Mr Elichaoff's death was suicide. "I believe that he did intended to do what he did and that he did take his own life," he said.

In the wake of his death, Mr Elichaoff was said to have moved in the same circles as five other men who all died prematurely in supposedly mysterious circumstances.

Mr Young, who fell to his death from his London penthouse last December, claimed he had lost his fortune in a highly secretive property development called Project Moscow.

Two other members of the so–called "ring of death", Robert Curtis and Paul Castle, had also invested in the ill-fated scheme, it was claimed.

Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch, was said to have co-ordinated the project, although friends said Berezovsky, who was also found dead after an apparent suicide, had no idea it was a scam.

Stephen Curtis, a lawyer who introduced Mr Young and two of his friends to his Russian contacts, was killed when his £1.5million helicopter crashed a mile from Bournemouth airport in 2004.

Friends claimed that the Russian mafia "bullied" the men to their deaths. One source, who did not want to be identified, alleged that there had been a "whitewash" in some cases.

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