Man falls to his death from German aristocrat's flat

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The Independent Online

Police are investigating the death of a man who fell 60ft from the window of a Chelsea flat owned by the German aristocrat Count Gottfried von Bismarck.

The victim fell at 5.40am yesterday and landed in the concrete backyard of a six-floor Victorian terrace just off Sloane Square in central London. Reports suggested that there had been a party or celebration at the building.

Officers last night were questioning a 41-year-old man in connection with death, which they are treating as suspicious.

The dead man, who was in his late 30s and who has not been identified, was taken to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: "I heard a crash, like a car crash, and I heard the voices ... and then I realised it was a person. I could see the people up in the back, I'm on the ground but I could see that there were these people and they were trying to get the attention of the lower ground floor."

Another neighbour described the Count as being a "very good neighbour".

Count von Bismarck, 43, the great-great grandson of Prussia's Iron Chancellor, attracted controversy 20 years ago when Olivia Channon, the 22-year-old daughter of former Tory minister, Paul Channon, was found dead from a heroin overdose in his bed at Christ Church, Oxford, after a party to celebrate the end of exams. She was surrounded by drugs paraphernalia. Count von Bismarck, the son of Prince Ferdinand, quit Oxford after the death of Miss Channon. He was later convicted of possession of amphetamine sulphate and fined £80.

At the time of his arrest in 1986, Count von Bismarck, who entered rehabilitation for alcoholism soon afterwards, said: "This whole thing has changed my life totally, I have learned a lot about addiction and I intend to change."

He returned to the family's castle near Hamburg and completed his studies at a German university. He has since pursued a business career.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said police had been called by the ambulance service at 5.39am to a man who had fallen about 60ft from a flat. He said there had been five people in the flat at the time of the incident, including the man who fell.

"The man had not been formally identified as next of kin were still being contacted," said the spokesman. "It is being treated as suspicious at the moment."

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