Teesside severed penis man’s death may have been due to erotic game, inquest hears

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A steelworker who survived having his penis and testicles severed last year might have died in Middlesbrough as a result of auto-erotic asphyxiation, an inquest has heard.

Kelly Hewitt, 41, was covered in blue paint with a ligature around his neck and another round what remained of his penis when he was discovered in his caravan at a travellers’ site in South Bank last month.

During the hearing at Teesside Coroner’s Court, it emerged that his family suspected Mr Hewitt might have caused the severe injuries to his groin when he was found in a distressed state by the A66 in March last year.

Teesside coroner Clare Bailey, sitting in Middlesbrough, said using the ligatures “may have been an act of some sort of erotic nature”.

She concluded the hard-working and much-loved father of six children and two grandchildren died as a result of misadventure.

Mr Hewitt planned revenge on the person he claimed attacked him last year, his step-father Gary Hawkan said in a statement to the inquest.

As the pair talked in hospital, Mr Hawkan said: “He knew who was responsible and he would sort it out, we were ready for pay-back and revenge.”

But when he was released from hospital, there was no vengeance.

Mr Hawkan said: “We never looked for anyone.

“I think he did it himself.

“He was a fighter and a strong lad, he knew how to handle himself.

“You would have thought he would be covered in bruises and the caravan would have been trashed.”

But Mr Hewitt denied the claim, his step-father said, and got angry. “It was never really discussed further,” he said.

Cleveland Police arrested a man at the time but he was never charged.

Mr Hewitt was doted on by his children and loved them, his stepfather said, but he had a dark side and if he was down and alone, he would sometimes shave off his hair and eyebrows. He had done that before he was found dead, the inquest heard.

He found it hard to discuss his problems and having a “heart-to-heart was pointless”, Mr Hawkan said.

They had discussed how his injuries last year could have been worse, and that he could have been left unable to walk, the inquest heard.

He did not take up the offer of counselling and was allowed to leave hospital without any medication, the hearing was told.

“Even if they had, I doubt he would have taken medication if it meant he couldn’t drink,” Mr Hawkan said in his statement.

He was a Jekyll and Hyde character, his stepfather said, with “demons and a dark side” but he suspected that his death might have been caused by a sex game gone wrong.

“It is possible there has been some kind of sexual gratification thing gone wrong, like the celebrities,” he said.

Following a row with a girlfriend in 2001, Mr Hewitt drove off and suffered injuries in a crash which he might have caused deliberately, the inquest was told.

His elder daughter Leanne Trewitt said in a statement that she worried about her father after he suffered the severe injuries at the site last year.

“Since the incident 12 months ago at The Haven, I feared he may do something to himself,” she said.

Detective Sergeant Paul Husband, who investigated the death, said the injuries last year were caused with a blunt instrument, and there was huge publicity surrounding the case.

A police investigation did not lead to anyone being prosecuted. “It was believed Mr Hewitt was responsible for causing his own injuries,” the detective said.

Mr Hewitt drank heavily and used recreational drugs at times, the coroner was told.

His best friend and colleague at the SSI plant Stu Johnson forced a window on his caravan when he could not raise him on May 7, the inquest heard. He called his friend’s phone and could hear it ringing, but could not get a response from Mr Hewitt.

He found him covered in blue paint on his bed.

Following a post-mortem examination, Dr Mark Egan said in a report that the ligatures “raised the possibility this was part of auto-erotic activity”.

Tests found he had been drinking and an unidentified drug was in his system, and these may have contributed to, but not caused, his death, the court heard.

Miss Bailey said: “I do not believe that he intended to take his own life. Therefore my conclusion is that Kelly has passed as a result of misadventure.

“That essentially means he has taken a course of action knowingly and deliberately, but did not intend the fatal consequences.”

Mr Hewitt’s partner Michelle Jackson and his niece Stacey Hewitt were at the hearing but did not give evidence.