The family of a man who died after he was shot in the head in Sydenham Hill refuse to believe he took his own life, a court heard.

An inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court took place today into the death of Sherome Blair, 34, who was found dead on August 21 last year, the day before he was due in court.

A jogger stumbled upon Mr Blair’s lifeless body slumped in a wooded area off Sydenham Hill, found with a revolver resting on the fingertips of his left hand.

Mr Blair, who his mother testified was right handed, suffered a fatal gunshot to his right temple, prompting questions from family members as to how the gun could have ended up in his left hand, the court heard.

In a statement read to the court, his mother Winsome Green-Blair, said she saw her son almost every day, and they had a good relationship.

Speaking about her last contact with her son, Ms Green-Blair said: “He came in to my room, kissed me goodbye, said see you later or tomorrow.

“I never saw my son alive again.”

She told the court: “I just don’t believe my son killed himself.”

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The tributes left where the body of Sherome Blair was found in August last year.

In his statement Mr Blair’s brother Jordan said he had been “as happy as can be” leading up to his death.

He too was unaware of any fights, or gang involvement, describing Mr Blair as someone who loved life.

Detective Inspector John Hughes, the senior investigating officer in the case, said a black smartphone found near Mr Blair was examined by officers.

Giving evidence during the inquest, Det Insp Hughes said several searches were made on the phone on the morning of August 20.

He said: “It would appear that Sherome was in the flat on his own when he made that final search of firearms, shooting yourself, information on suicide using a gun.”

Almost a month after Mr Blair’s death, another man was arrested following the discovery of someone else’s DNA on the gun, DI Hughes told the court.

The man, who is still facing charges for possession of firearms, explained the presence of his DNA by saying he may have handled the weapon whilst he was purchasing guns in 2011.

He also provided an alibi to police for the night Mr Blair died, the court heard.

Asked by the family’s barrister, Kirsten Sjovoll, whether any connections were found between the man and Mr Blair - given that they had both spent time in prison - Det Insp Hughes said officers did not find a link.

He said the police did consider the possibility of a staged suicide, but the lividity - the way the blood settles after death – indicated that Mr Blair’s body had not been moved.

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Ms Sjovoll also raised questions about a baseball hat which had been worn by Mr Blair when he was discovered, but was not damaged in the shooting.

She asked Det Insp Hughes: “Is it possible the hat, in order to have been persevered so intact, was simply placed on Sherome’s head after the shot was administered?”

Det Insp Hughes told the court it was possible, but he thought it was unlikely, and admitted the hat was not submitted for DNA testing to rule out the possibility.

Recording an open verdict, senior coroner Andrew Harris said it was probable Mr Blair took his own life but there were still unanswered questions.

He said the forensic evidence gave strong support that Mr Blair killed himself, but there was significant doubts which prevented him coming to a verdict of suicide.


Coroner Harris said there was no evidence the body had been moved, ruling out the verdict of unlawful killing.

He said: “He [Mr Blair] clearly has a gambling habit. I know his family said he had only gambled with William Hill, pre-paid, but he could well have undisclosed debts from other gambling which his brother didn’t know, but that would be speculation.

“There was a court case. Large sums of drugs and money were involved, he could have been stressed about this.”

He said Mr Blair’s internet searches were “highly suggestive” that he had taken his own life, but were not enough to prove intent.

Coroner Harris praised Mr Blair’s family who were in court, saying they conducted themselves “with great dignity”.

After the inquest Ms Green-Blair told News Shopper: “We are relieved that the verdict was not suicide.

“We are very disappointed with the police investigation.

“We never believed that our son and brother had killed himself, and we still don’t.”