London - An Arab prince died in his luxury London apartment after bingeing on cocaine and the sex drug GHB with another man.
Fashion designer Khalid al-Qasimi, 39, was found dead by a cleaner at the £8 million (about R155 million) flat in Knightsbridge, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday.
Public school educated al-Qasimi, whose father is the emir of Sharjah, had taken high levels of the psychoactive drug GHB and "recreational" amounts of cocaine with a man called Yohan Escobar.
Cleaner Maria Kisaohanyan thought al-Qasimi was asleep after finding him sitting upright on the floor by the corner of the sofa just after 10am on July 1.
She realised he was dead after he showed no response when she touched his neck.
The prince owned British-based fashion label Qasimi.
Educated at Tonbridge School in Kent, he was the son of Sheik Dr Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi, also known as Sheik Sultan III, who has ruled Sharjah, third largest of the United Arab Emirates, since 1972. In a statement to the court, Miss Kisaohanyan said: "He was full of life, on top of his career and on top of the world, very open-minded and very clever."
Coroner Bernard Richmond, QC, said: "She thought originally he seemed to be asleep. His mouth was open; his eyes were half open, but he was not snoring which she regarded as unusual because he usually snored. She thought he was going to wake up and she decided to check on him. She touched his neck because she was becoming worried and it was cold.
"It was clear to her that something was wrong and she phoned the manager of the building to say, “Dial 999! He is dead. He is dead”.
"A security man was called to the apartment to help and paramedics also arrived, but it was plain it was too late." Mr Al Qasimi had more than 300mg of GHB in his bloodstream, according to a toxicology report by Dr Susan Patterson.
Detective Adrian De Villiers, who investigated the death, said Yohan Escobar was likely to have been the last person to see al-Qasimi alive. Mr Escobar, who is not a suspect in al-Qasimi’s death, told police he had seen him taking both GHB and cocaine and that the pair had taken the drugs together.
His connection to the designer was not revealed. He said he thought al-Qasimi was asleep when he left the flat at 9pm because he was snoring.
Mr Richmond said: ‘He said that the cocaine and GHB in particular had seemed strong.
"There is no suggestion of anybody acting in a way to give or make Khalid take these drugs.’
Private GP Dr Sophia Khalique said that the fashion designer was a heavy smoker but exercised regularly. A post-mortem report by Dr Michael Osborn confirmed the cause of death as drug poisoning
Reaching his conclusion of a drug-related death, the coroner said: ‘It is plain from what I heard there is no suggestion of any third party involvement or anything untowards being done by anybody else. ’
A family representative said: ‘Khalid’s passing is still a shock to us all. We mourn the loss of a son, nephew and brother. Khalid had a unique vision, a commitment to causes, incredible taste and a beautiful soul. We take comfort that through his flourishing Qasimi label, Khalid’s brilliant, creative, compassionate spirit lives on.’
Sheik Sultan III’s eldest son, from his first marriage, died aged 24 of a heroin overdose in 1999 at the family’s home near East Grinstead, West Sussex.