Tragedy of philanthropist who gave millions to needy
PUBLISHED: 15:12 11 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:17 07 September 2010
A GOLDERS Green philanthropist who died in a car crash had taken cocaine, an inquest heard on Tuesday. Benzion Dunner, 45, a father of nine and a multi-millionaire property mogul, was mourned by thousands of people who visited his home on West Heath Aven
A GOLDERS Green philanthropist who died in a car crash had taken cocaine, an inquest heard on Tuesday.
Benzion Dunner, 45, a father of nine and a multi-millionaire property mogul, was mourned by thousands of people who visited his home on West Heath Avenue when he died in March.
He was well-known in the Jewish community for his generosity and days before his death had given away £2million to vulnerable families to mark the religious festival Purim.
His inquest at Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset Coroner's Court this week found he died instantly due to extensive chest injuries from the crash, and toxicology results showed that he had taken cocaine in the days before his death.
Coroner Sheriff Payne said: "It has come to light that he had cocaine in his system. One of the effects of that is you do become reckless."
The coroner added that the effect of the drug could have been a "contributory factor" to the accident.
Mr Dunner, son of former Golders Green councillor Rabbi Aba Dunner, was in his £175,000 Bentley Arnage near Bournemouth when the crash occurred on March 22.
He was driving two of his sons and a family friend to his second home in the seaside town when he clipped the Toyota he was overtaking.
The car went off the road and crashed into a tree killing him, but the passengers escaped unscathed.
Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks paid tribute to Mr Dunner at the time of his death, describing him as an "outstanding exemplar of Jewish values and Jewish responsibility".
His father also told the Ham&High: "He gave help, advice and support. That was always part of his character, even as a boy he cared for others, he was always interested in everyone around him. He wanted to share what God gave him."
Mr Dunner leaves his wife Esther and their nine children, ranging in age from a one-year-old toddler to a son in his 20s.
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