Hard Rock Café founder denies beating up 'drug addict' wife

By Rachel Williams
Tuesday 16 December 2003 01:00

The founder of the Hard Rock Café chain denied yesterday that he had beaten up his former wife and told an inquest that she had died of a broken heart.

Camille Cox, 41, became severely depressed after the death of her seven-year-old son Jamie in a car crash two years before her death. She had held her son in her arms for an hour before they were rescued and had suffered recurring nightmares and insomnia.

Barry Cox, a multi-millionaire, said after an open verdict was recorded: "I thought Camille had died of a broken heart after Jamie's accident.

"All I want to do is get on with my life and look after my daughter and let her mummy rest in peace. She knows through personal experience that unfortunately mummy took lots of drugs because of Jamie's accident." Mrs Cox was found at her home in St John's Wood, north London, two years ago. Police decided her death was not suspicious after it was found she had taken a cocktail of drugs including GHB, also known as liquid ecstasy. Mr Cox, 59, told the inquest at Westminster coroner's court that his former wife had fallen over in a confused state while on drugs "many, many times". Asked by the coroner, Dr Paul Knapman, what he would say if there was any indication he was responsible for her injuries, Mr Cox replied: "I would deny it."

Clifford Mailer, a barrister hired by Mrs Cox's parents, told the inquest Mr Cox had been arrested in the 1990s after his wife alleged he had attacked her. He was also served with an injunction barring him from the couple's home.

Mr Cox said that Mrs Cox had always withdrawn her allegations; the injunction had been lifted after four weeks.

Mr Mailer asked Mr Cox: "You beat her up didn't you?" "No," replied Mr Cox. He said his former wife had frequently made allegations against him but later changed her mind. "That's what happens when you're married to a drug addict, you get attacked a lot."

Dr Knapman said the cause of Mrs Cox's death was "fatal medical complications following a combination of recent intake of drugs, injuries to the body and sequelae [abnormality resulting from disease, injury or treatment] of a fatty liver.

"I think it is highly unlikely that her death was as a result of injuries sustained by actions of another person. I think that Barry Cox seems to me to have given his account in a truthful manner."