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Hendon and Finchley Times
1:18pm Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
By Chris Hewett
A vulnerable adult took his own life hours before he was due to be forced out of his council home, an inquest heard today.
Michael Van Der Laar, 63, took a large overdose of prescription medicine after becoming “anxious and stressed” over the impending eviction from his flat of 33 years on the Stonegrove Estate in Edgware.
The keen chess player, who suffered from bipolar disorder and depression from the early 1990s, was among dozens being evicted as part of a major regeneration of the 1960s Barnet Homes estate.
All tenants, including Mr Van Der Laar, had been offered new accommodation and he was due to move into a newly-built flat on the same estate.
North London Coroner’s Court heard this morning how Mr Van Der Laar had expressed upset at the move to numerous support workers, as well as neighbours and friends.
Senior coroner Andrew Walker was told how the former accountant, who retired for medical reasons, frequently said he would end his life but, barring one suicide attempt several years earlier, rarely showed any serious intent to do so.
On the morning of the move on May 8, police were called to Mr Van Der Laar’s flat in Chichele House, Lacey Drive, by a friend who was due to help with unpacking.
Officers forced open the door and discovered the single man lying dead on his bed.
They later found a large number of empty prescription medicine packets in the kitchen.
The court heard evidence from Mr Van Der Laar’s psychiatrist, social worker and community support worker, all of whom agreed he was feeling “stressed and anxious” about the move.
Community support worker Clive Paterson said his client had shown particular worry about whether his furniture would fit in the new flat, and had appeared upset that he would not be able to hang pictures on the wall while the new building “settled”.
Coroner Walker questioned whether any legal advice had been provided to Mr Van Der Laar, whose late parents are understood to come from Holland or Denmark, in the build-up to the move.
The court was adjourned to a later date for further evidence to be gathered from Barnet Homes on this point.
Speaking after the hearing today, Pat Bradley, a close friend of Mr Van Der Laar’s for the past 33 years, said: “He didn’t want to move. He was terrified of moving and of people touching his stuff – his flat was his own.
“He was a kind man and had friends around the estate. He would give my daughter birthday money every year and he loved playing chess. He was just a nice man – it is really tragic.”
Note: Toxicology report showed antidepressant in his blood