Pop musician `was set on fire'

A TALENTED black pop musician who died after being found on fire in mysterious circumstances told his brother he had been torched by four youths, an inquest jury was told yesterday.

Michael Menson was found wandering naked and with horrific burns on the North Circular Road, north London, early on 28 January last year. He died in the burns unit at Billericay Hospital in Essex two weeks later.

Despite his family's insistence that he was the victim of a race attack, police have been unable to come up with any evidence about how his injuries were inflicted.

Yesterday, Hornsey coroner's court in north London heard that Mr Menson, a diagnosed schizophrenic who had five hit singles during the 1980s with the group Double Trouble, told his brother, Kwesi, that he believed he had been attacked by the youths.

Mr Menson, 30, who had spoken from his hospital bed, had said the youths, aged about 16, had been on a 299 bus with him to Walthamstow.

He told his brother he got off the bus near a church. Kwesi Menson made a note of the bedside conversation, which was read out in court by Terry Munyard, counsel for the family.

It said: "I leant back on the gates of a church and the next thing I knew I was on fire. I ran down the North Circular to a car and some people were standing."

Kwesi Menson insisted his brother was lucid at the time of the conversation despite his pain, mental illness and the pain-killing drugs he was on. "He was very alert and very aware of what was going on around him," he said.

The hearing continues today.

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