A vulnerable homeless man killed himself after waiting five months for Croydon Council to review his housing application.

Pascal Contos, who worked as a prop hand on Hollywood films in the 1990s, gassed himself after becoming increasingly worried he might be forced onto the streets, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mr Contos, 42, of Thornton Heath, repeatedly spoke of his fears about homelessness, mental health workers told South London Coroner's Court.

He killed himself in the room of his temporary bedsit in London Road on August 25, 2008.

The inquest heard South African-born Mr Contos, who worked on films including Stephen King adaptation The Mangler, had been struggling to find work and battling depression.

The self-employed film and stage prop hand was registered disabled after suffering head injuries during a suspected suicide attempt in November 2007, when he threw himself out of a window at King's College Hospital.

After leaving hospital, Mr Contos took up temporary residence at Ashburton Crisis Centre. But he was told to leave in February after managers judged his mental health to be stable.

He lodged an application for housing on Febuary 27, which was rejected by Croydon Council a month later.

He appealed, but the the council was still reviewing its decision at the time of his death - despite  a statutory time limit of 56 days.

He spent the last five months of his life moving between bed-and-breakfast accommodation.

The council said Mr Contos's case involved "complex issues" and that it could not be held responsible for his death.

But Mary Gaskin, manager of welfare benefits at mental heath charity Mind in Croydon, who helped with Mr Contos's case, said the council "should have shown him more respect".

She said: "Even if his application was going to be a no, the build-up and the not-knowing was very distressing for him."

Marie Brown, community mental health nurse at Tamworth Road Resource Centre, where Mr Santos received treatment, said: "He told me he was having great difficulty with his housing. All he spoke about was the fear of being told he had to leave.

"I told the council he was a vulnerable patient."

Paul Ashton, head of Croydon Council's homeless persons unit in 2008, told the inquest it Mr Santos's application had been delayed because it was seeking legal advice on whether he was permanently or temporarily disabled.

He said Mr Santos's non-EU nationality and self-employed status had also slowed down the process, but admitted documents originally sent by Mr Santos had also been lost, causing further delay.

He stressed the council had funded Mr Santos's temporary lodgings while it assessed his application.

But Miss Gaskin expressed incredulity that the council had taken so long to decide whether it would house Mr Santos, and said Mind had taken a matter of weeks to compile the relevant material.

She said the council had been told Mr Santos was likely to kill himself if left homeless.

Coroner Roy Palmer said: "It is not as if he was out on the street, but he would have been feeling vulnerable. That was playing on his mind."

He recorded a verdict of suicide with asphyxiation as cause of death.