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Caroline Flack’s inquest resumes today six months after star’s tragic death

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Caroline Flack wrote a tearful final message hoping that she and her boyfriend would ‘find harmony’, her inquest heard today, as the star’s mother blasted the Crown Prosecution Service for pursuing a ‘show trial’ of her daughter.  

The 40-year-old former Love Island and X Factor presenter was found hanged at her home in Stoke Newington, north-east London, on February 15 this year. 

On a coffee table a paramedic saw a note that read: ‘I hope me and Lewis can one day find harmony’. 

Flack had been due to stand trial for assaulting her boyfriend, former tennis player and model Lewis Burton, in December, after police arriving at the bloodstained scene described it looking like ‘a horror movie’.

Her mother, Christine, said today in a written statement: ‘I believe Caroline was seriously let down by the authorities and in particular the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) for pursuing the case. 

‘I believe this was a show trial. I feel the prosecutor was unkind to Caroline and my family. I was threatened with arrest when I tried to speak.’

Flack’s mother could be seen weeping on video link as her statement was read by Coroner Mary Hassell at Poplar Coroner’s Court in east London. 

Earlier today, the inquest heard how the star’s friends and twin sister tried desperately to break into the house where she killed herself. 

The first witness statement was that of Stephen Teasdale, father of Flack’s hair stylist friend Louise, 36, who said he went to the scene after the star’s twin sister Jody phoned to say she could not get in to Flack’s address.

He said: ‘We came to the flat and tried to force entry. We thought about phoning the police but knew the landlady … We got the key and let ourselves into the flat.’

Mr Teasdale said he found Flack’s lifeless body, hanged.

He said: ‘I brought her (down) and Jody started CPR. We were giving CPR for somewhere between five and ten minutes, then the police took over.’

Caroline Flack attending National Television Awards at the O2 in London on January 22, 2019. She was found dead on February 15

Caroline Flack attending National Television Awards at the O2 in London on January 22, 2019. She was found dead on February 15

Caroline Flack attending National Television Awards at the O2 in London on January 22, 2019. She was found dead on February 15 

Christine Flack today continued her statement by attacking the CPS’s decision to include ‘disputed evidence’ in her daughter’s assault trial. 

‘The result of the media attention of this hearing forced Caroline to leave her home which she loved,’ she said. ‘Being well known should not allow special treatment, but should not allow making an example of someone.’  

She added: ‘She lost the job she worked so hard at. I was with her the weekend before her death, in her new flat.

‘When I said goodbye to her that day I never thought it would be for the last time. I kissed her and she said: ‘Bye mum’.

Flack’s sister, Jody said she believed Flack tried to kill herself in December, ahead of her first appearance at the magistrates court for assault.

She said Flack was ‘in a very anxious state of mind’ before her death and said an ambulance had been called for her four times previously.

‘Heartbreak is something Caroline found extremely difficult,’ Jody said. ‘She attempted to take her own life the night before she appeared in court. I believe the shame … was too much to deal with.’

Brian Wells, a doctor called to Flack’s hotel room the night before her court appearance, said the presenter was inebriated and had apparently ‘taken a small overdose’. However, she was not suicidal, nor did she need hospital treatment, the court was told.

Today’s inquest also heard about the immediate aftermath of Flack’s death on February 15. 

Paramedic David O’Toole said he entered the property that evening and saw two women distraught on a sofa.

He said the victim appeared to have been ‘dead for a number of hours’ and that the women said they last saw her alive at 10.30am that day.

One of the crew pointed to a handwritten note placed on an open magazine on the coffee table, which referenced ‘Lewis’. 

Pc Tim Child said there was evidence of suicide attempts elsewhere in the property. 

Det Sgt Jonathan Maharaj said there was evidence of ‘a number of calls’ made and received on Flack’s mobile phone, and that she conducted searches for ‘people who blame’ as well as for suicide.

Today’s hearing heard details about Flack’s behaviour on February 14, the Friday night before her death.  

Friend Louise Teasdale said she and another friend had spent the evening with the television presenter in her home, arriving at about 10.30pm.

The following morning, she left the flat at about 10.30am after Flack was angry with them for contacting an ambulance over their concerns that she had ‘clearly had a breakdown’.

She said: ‘Caroline spoke to her family about coming the next day because she wanted us to leave, she was quite angry with us. She didn’t want us there.’

Flack with her mother, Christine, who today criticised the CPS for pursuing a 'show trial' of her daughter

Flack with her mother, Christine, who today criticised the CPS for pursuing a 'show trial' of her daughter

Flack with her mother, Christine, who today criticised the CPS for pursuing a ‘show trial’ of her daughter 

She told the inquest: ‘We were always nervous to call the police because she didn’t trust the police, and she didn’t want anything to come out to the public which looked like she was having a breakdown.’

Mollie Grosberg, another of Flack’s long-standing friends, appeared via videolink to give evidence in the inquest.

She told the coroner how Flack was ‘very loving’, adding: ‘She was very kind, she was very forgiving, she had a lot of friends, she was genuine.

‘She wasn’t like a typical celebrity, you would feel very comfortable around her. It’s left a big hole for a lot of people.’

Flack’s friend Ms Grosberg said the presenter’s mental health deteriorated the more famous she got.

She said: ‘Increasingly over the last few years she had a lot of heartache and the press seemed to pick up a lot on her. She was very sad all the time.

‘Normally the kind of person she was, she could pick herself up. But she couldn’t after December … she lost who she was and she couldn’t get it back.’

Friend Ms Grosberg described how she and Ms Teasdale went to Flack’s house on the evening of Friday February 14 after the presenter sent a message saying she was going to kill herself.

Flack was found barely conscious on her sofa, surrounded by tablets.

The friends called the non-emergency 111 number, but then phoned for an ambulance an hour later when it did not arrive.

She told the inquest that paramedics arriving on the scene asked Flack if she attempted suicide but she said ‘No, I had a headache’.

She said: ‘We were obviously very scared about getting the police involved. She was trying to explain. It was agreed she wasn’t going (to hospital) and I got very angry and shouted, I said this was ridiculous.

‘They (paramedics) said: ‘She doesn’t want to go … you are going to have to do some baby sitting’.’

Coroner Mary Hassell asked friend Mollie Grosberg whether it was accurate that Flack pushed her friends away when she needed them most.

Ms Grosberg replied: ‘Yes. Every time I left her for half an hour she would do something. It feels like she needed help.

‘She must’ve said ‘no-one will every understand what I’m going through’ ten times that morning. She was so scared to go to prison, of the police, the press … it was too much. All she cared about was everybody else being affected.’

Louise Teasdale with Flack in London on February 17, 2020

Louise Teasdale with Flack in London on February 17, 2020

Caroline and Jody Flack at an Oxfam event in London in 2014. Jody will be watching today's proceedings via video link

Caroline and Jody Flack at an Oxfam event in London in 2014. Jody will be watching today's proceedings via video link

Louise Teasdale with Flack in London on February 17, 2020 (left). Louise was a friend of the presenter and found her body. On the right are Caroline and Jody Flack at an Oxfam event in London in 2014. Jody will be watching today’s proceedings via video link

Flack’s mother Chris told Ms Grosberg during live evidence at the inquest that she had been told by her daughter that Lewis Burton had sent a picture of the bloody crime scene which formed the assault charge to one of his former girlfriends.

It subsequently ended up published by some parts of the press.

Chris Flack said: ‘Lewis sent the photo of the blood and sent it to his friend. That killed her.’

Ms Grosberg replied: ‘As far as I know, this is the God’s honest truth, she never mentioned a word to me that he had sold or given the photo to an ex-girlfriend. That was never mentioned to me.’

Flack’s mother replied: ‘She said it to me and it was devastating that she found out.’

Paramedic Tony Rumore, who was called to Flack’s address on Friday February 14, described how the former Love Island presenter denied trying to kill herself.

He said: ‘At that time she could stand up, she was alert, she was slightly lethargic. She wasn’t slurring her words and was able to get her words out.

‘We asked them to disclose what she had taken, they said she had taken tablets. She said there was no alcohol that night and denied taking anything else.

‘We asked Caroline if her intention was to harm or kill herself, she said it was merely an attempt to sleep and escape from the stresses she was under.’

Paramedic Mr Rumore said Flack was advised to go with them to hospital to monitor her physical and mental health.

He told the inquest: ‘At that point, Caroline said she adamantly would not be going to hospital and wanted to stay at home. We went through some of the risks – depression, organ failure and death.

‘With obviously so much stress in her life, not having a support network can also be quite detrimental to her mental health.

‘Our recommendation was always to be going to hospital but Caroline chose that she did not want to go.’

Paramedic Mr Rumore was asked whether there was any discussion about how to treat Flack, considering her celebrity status.

He told the inquest: ‘I didn’t know who she was, I was addressing her as Jody, that’s the only way I knew her. She introduced herself as Jody.’

Flack with her boyfriend Lewis Burton on a night out in London in 2019

Flack with her boyfriend Lewis Burton on a night out in London in 2019

Flack with her boyfriend Lewis Burton on a night out in London in 2019 

The coroner asked: ‘Did anybody say there’s an issue, as a well-known person, that if she goes to hospital she would be recognised?’

Mr Rumore replied: ‘We knew there were issues regarding privacy.’

Mr Rumore said he suggested Flack’s friends stay overnight with her and then for Flack to speak to her GP in the morning – something he said the former Love Island star agreed to do.

He said: ‘What we described was first thing in the morning, without any doubt, she would speak to her GP. That was agreed.’

The coroner, Mary Hassell, replied: ‘Did you say, you need to stay with her until she’s at the GP’s surgery?’

Mr Rumore replied: ‘It could have been worth having a discussion (with the friends) saying we need to make sure she gets there, but that was not our original plan – we wanted her in hospital that night.’

He agreed there would have been benefit in having a discussion with the friends to stay with Flack until she was seen by the GP.

Paramedic Mr Rumore said it was not possible to detain Flack under the Mental Health Act.

He said: ‘She could be sectioned if she was in a public place, but in her own place of safety she could not be detained – she was in her own home at the time.’    

The court heard the deceased was born Caroline Louise Flack, on November 9, 1979 in Enfield, her occupation was a television presenter, and that she died at home in Stoke Newington on February 15.     

Pathologist Professor Michael Sheaff found Flack died from hanging.

Tamsin Lewis, psychiatrist and lifestyle medicine practitioner in Mayfair, said in a statement that she was contacted by Flack’s personal assistant on December 17, 2019 and met her for an appointment.  

Ms Lewis said Flack had ‘a bandaged finger’ following a fight with her boyfriend, ‘but said it was nothing more than a lover’s tiff, heightened by alcohol’.

Ms Lewis added: ‘I spent much of the time listening to her concerns about the current media storm, her relationships and her family.

‘Her mood appeared low with a reactive effect, for example every time her phone notified her. She reported having panicky feelings all day … a sense of impending doom.’

She said Flack did not say she had suicidal intent.

‘She said she had been drinking excessively to numb herself,’ Ms Lewis said. ‘She said sleep had been impossible.’ 

Flack’s former boyfriend Lewis Burton told the court today in a written statement: ‘The last time I saw Caroline she was very upset, in fact devastated, she was not in a good place emotionally.

‘Sometimes she talked about taking her own life when she was extremely upset. The media were constantly bashing her character, writing hurtful stories … generally hounding her daily.

‘What was worrying her most was the police case and losing her presenting job on Love Island, plus not being able to see me.’

It was not stated in court when Mr Burton last saw Flack. 

Jody Flack also criticised media coverage of her sister, telling today’s inquest: ‘She was called a ‘killer’ and an ‘abuser’ on the front of the newspapers. The press and the public found this a very entertaining angle, and was spiralling out of control.

‘Her life and reputation she worked hard to build was falling apart … because of a false accusation. It was our belief it would not be happening to her if she wasn’t in the public eye. At worst, her career and reputation, so precious to her, had been taken away.’

She said sections of the press were ‘hounding her’ and had paid the neighbours to inform them on her movements.

Jody said: ‘Caroline spent the last few months of her life hiding inside, scared of the abuse. Caroline seemed very sad the day before her death – she seemed to have lost her fight.’  

Flack’s family had increased concerns about her mental state as her trial loomed, while Mr Burton also pleaded to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to drop the case.

Her death prompted an outpouring of sorrow from celebrity friends, colleagues and fans, who referenced one of Flack’s social media posts from December in which she urged people to ‘be kind’.

The 40-year-old former Love Island and X Factor star was found hanged at her home in Stoke Newington, north-east London, on February 15, 2020

The 40-year-old former Love Island and X Factor star was found hanged at her home in Stoke Newington, north-east London, on February 15, 2020

The 40-year-old former Love Island and X Factor star was found hanged at her home in Stoke Newington, north-east London, on February 15, 2020 

Prior to today’s inquest, Flack’s management team criticised the CPS for conducting a ‘show trial’ which prompted a review into her death.

However, the CPS found the case was handled ‘appropriately’.

Flack’s mother Chris said her daughter’s legal team and psychologist warned about the potential for the former Strictly champion to kill herself.

‘The CPS were fully aware of these matters and the risk when they decided to continue the prosecution,’ Mrs Flack said.

She described an allegation that her daughter hit Mr Burton over the head with a lamp as ‘false’.

She also said the claim was denied by both Mr Burton and Flack and ‘was completely inconsistent with the injury that Mr Burton sustained’. 

Flack’s family also posthumously shared a social media post the troubled star had written but was persuaded by advisers not to publish before her death in which she disclosed having an ’emotional breakdown’.

She wrote: ‘I’ve been having some sort of emotional breakdown for a very long time. But I am not a domestic abuser. The reason I am talking today is because my family can’t take anymore.

‘I’ve lost my job. My home. My ability to speak. And the truth has been taken out of my hands and used as entertainment. I’ve been pressing the snooze button on many stresses in my life – for my whole life.

‘I’ve accepted shame and toxic opinions on my life for over 10 years and yet told myself it’s all part of my job. No complaining.

‘The problem with brushing things under the carpet is …. they are still there and one day someone is going to lift that carpet up and all you are going to feel is shame and embarrassment.’

Her suicide was the latest connected to Love Island, following the deaths of contestants Mike Thalassitis, 26, in March 2019 and Sophie Gradon, 32, in June 2018.

Miss Gradon’s boyfriend Aaron Armstrong, 25, died three weeks after he found his girlfriend.

To contact the Samaritans, call 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit https://www.samaritans.org/

DailyMail Online


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