A verdict of suicide was recorded at an East Grinstead inquest today on a South African, Johannes Hermanus Scheepers, aged 29, described on his alien registration card as a student of scientology.
Mr. Scheepers was said to have been staying at the home of Mr. David Gaiman, Harwood House South, Harwoods Lane, a mile from the scientologists' international headquarters at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead.
Mr. Gaiman, aged 35, a senior executive of the cult, denied on oath that the dead man had been student of scientology at Saint Hill.
Asked by Dr. Angus Summerville, the East Sussex coroner, why Mr. Scheepers had come to Britain, Mr. Gaiman said: "I assume that he came to gamble. That was the activity that took his interest."
Mr. Gaiman said he was introduced to Mr. Scheepers two-and-a-half months ago. Mr. Scheepers had stayed at his house in Harwoods Lane for a short time and then left, saying he was going to Brighton.
On Thursday evening, August 29, Mr. Scheepers arrived at his house and said he was flying back to South Africa on Saturday. A bed was wade up for him. "Scheepers had mentioned casually to my wife that his gambling system had broken down, and from that I gathered the impression he was broke", Mr. Gaiman said.
Police-constable Albert Walker said Mr. Scheepers was found on August 31 in a car parked in Harwoods Lane. A plastic pipe wedged into the exhaust entered the car by a window. Dr. Albert Sachs, a pathologist said the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning.
Police-constable Colin Daffiest, the coroner's officer, said Mr. Scheepers left two letters, saying he was going to take his own life and that this had nothing to do with scientology or being a member of the group. His flight back to South Africa had been cancelled.
After the inquest Mr. Gaiman said a check had shown that Mr. Scheepers had not been registered at any scientology establishment in Britain.