Banksy graffiti rival King Robbo ‘found in pool of blood outside flat’

PUBLISHED: 18:43 05 December 2014 | UPDATED: 18:43 05 December 2014

The scene of the Banksy-King Robbo feud beside Regent's Canal. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The scene of the Banksy-King Robbo feud beside Regent's Canal. Picture: Polly Hancock.


An underground graffiti artist who had a year-long feud with stencil artist Banksy died three years after he was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood outside his King’s Cross flat, an inquest heard.

John Robertson, who was known to the art world as King Robbo, died of pneumonia at a neurological centre in Hertfordshire on July 31 having been in a vegetative state after sustaining a brain injury outside his flat in Calshot Street in April 2011.

On Wednesday, coroner Mary Hassell told an inquest into Mr Robertson’s death at St Pancras Coroners’ Court that there was “no suggestion of foul play” but concluded that there was “scant evidence” to explain how Mr Robertson sustained his injury.

The 44-year-old was found lying at the bottom of a flight of 10 steps with a fractured skull in the early hours of April 2, 2011, having earlier been spotted walking up the steps while looking at his mobile phone.

Mr Robertson made global headlines as King Robbo in 2009 when world-famous stencil artist Banksy defaced one of his most historic works on a wall beside Regent’s Canal, beneath the British Transport Police headquarters in Camden Road, Camden Town.

This led to a series of tit-for-tat overpaintings from the two artists on the wall, originally sprayed by King Robbo in 1984, over the following year.

Mr Robertson’s true identity was only uncovered after his death having never revealed his face or real name during an art career as King Robbo spanning three decades.

Following his death, graffiti artist Doze, 48, a close friend, described him as “the most prolific and respected British graffiti artist ever”.

The feud with Banksy, which brought King Robbo out of retirement, became the subject of a Channel 4 documentary filmed shortly before his head injury.

Banksy publicly objected to the programme, Graffiti Wars, saying it inferred he might have had something to do with his rival’s accident, which the broadcaster denied.

On Wednesday, the court heard Mr Robertson had been drinking alcohol on the evening of his death and was later found lying outside his flat by paramedics who were called by a passer-by in a taxi.

He was rushed to the Royal London Hospital, in Whitechapel, where he underwent surgery to treat a bleed on the brain.

The father-of-three was eventually moved to the Whittington Hospital, in Archway, and then the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, in Putney, where he was diagnosed as being in a vegetative state in March 2012.

In March this year, he was moved to Gardens and Jacobs neurological centres, in Hertfordshire, where he passed away on July 31 having contracted pneumonia.

Recording an open verdict, Ms Hassell said: “I have no hesitation in saying Mr Robertson died as a result of the long-term consequences of the traumatic brain injury he suffered in 2011.

“However I have scant evidence as to how that brain injury was sustained. He was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs and it may be that he fell down those stairs. I have no evidence of that.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:52

Community groups are celebrating after the owners of the “landmark” Alliance pub in West Hampstead had planning permission for extensive remodelling and redevelopment refused.

Yesterday, 14:09

Twenty-five people, including eleven in Camden, have been charged with drugs offences after two-days of dawn raids in Camden, Islington, Brent and Lambeth.

Yesterday, 13:32

Sardonic, sarcastic and funny are three of the words that have been used to describe the late-SOAS lecturer and King’s Cross local Prof Lawrence Saez, who died at the beginning of September.

Yesterday, 12:49

Jamie Brown of Archant Local Impact explains how you can build brand awareness.

Thu, 19:01

This year’s Remembrance Day will see a remarkable multi-faith ceremony bring together the Highgate community to remember the horrors of the First World War on the centenary of its conclusion.

Thu, 16:43

Christmas came early for activists in West Hampstead last night after Camden Council refused to grant christmas tree sellers Pines and Needles a licence to trade from Fortune Green.

Thu, 15:00

“Zero-hours” critical care nurses at the Royal Free Trust are facing a pay cut that could set them back thousands of pounds a year, the Ham&High can reveal.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now