From The Manchester Evening News by Beth Abbit
Mystery surrounds the death of a man who was discovered collapsed at a sauna in Manchester’s gay village.
A coroner has been unable to formally identify the Nigerian man, known to friends as Bode Lawal, after it emerged he had several different identities.
The man was discovered lying face down at the H20 sauna, on Sackville Street, on the night of August 11 last year. He later died at Royal Manchester Infirmary.
Police found no injuries to his body and say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
When investigating officers tried to identify the body using fingerprint technology he was named as Randolph Gaudi.
But when officers arrived at Mr Gaudi’s home in Tottenham, London, they found the real Mr Gaudi sitting at the kitchen table alive.
Mr Gaudi told police his passport was stolen in 2004 and he had been the victim of identity fraud ever since.
During an inquest at Manchester Coroners’ Court, assistant coroner Sally Hatfield recorded an open conclusion stating that the man known as Bode Lawal died ‘a natural death’ at the H20 sauna.
She added: “He was the man known as Bode Lawal though I can’t conclude that was his actual name.
“Despite the inordinate efforts of the police here and in London I’m not at all satisfied I can identify who he was.”
Ms Hatfield said it was clear Bode Lawal had struggled with his identity and sexuality and that much of his past was unknown.
She said a pathologist was unable to ascertain a cause of death but believed it may have been related to the inhalation of poppers and an underlying heart condition.
The inquest heard that a man fitting Mr Lawal’s description had told a sauna assistant he was a dancer visiting Manchester for Pride and was planning to visit the gay club Cruz 101.
The assistant later found the man lying unresponsive in a sauna cubicle.
Police found a cheque book in the name of Randolph Gaudi and a wallet with an address for a Samuel Maitland at the sauna.
Mr Maitland told police he did not known Mr Gaudi but showed them Mr Lawal’s belongings, which included two bottles of poppers and some medication in the name of Peter Lawal.
Friend Leitha Mantal told the court that Mr Lawal – who she knew as a priest – was due to meet her on the night of August 11 but never arrived.
She later contacted police to report him missing after discovering that a friend had dropped him at Canal Street that night.
She said Mr Lawal had been living at the Celestial Church, in Tottenham. When Metropolitan Police officers visited the church they found two suitcases belonging to Mr Lawal containing a passport application in the name of Randolph Gaudi.
But when officers turned up to Mr Gaudi’s registered address in Tottenham, they found him alive. The real Mr Gaudi told police he had lost his passport 10 years previously and had been the victim of identity fraud ever since.
When police contacted a former partner of Mr Lawal they were told that the Nigerian national had struggled with immigration issues for several years.
Ms Mantal said Mr Lawal had revealed details of various health problems to her and described a troubled past. However she insisted that he would not lie about his identity.
She said: “I cannot imagine that he would use another name because he tells me everything.”
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