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Wednesday 5 Aug 2020 10:59
The inquest into former Love Island host Caroline Flack’s death resumed today at Poplar Coroner’s Court.
A four-minute hearing was previously opened and adjourned on February 19, when Flack’s provisional cause of death was given as suspension by ligature. No members of Flack’s family were present today, although her mother Chris Flack and twin sister Jody Flack were among those watching proceedings via videolink.
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.
Caroline Flack inquest
The inquest into Caroline Flack’s death today resumed to determine the details of the star’s death. The 40-year-old was found dead at her address after her sister phoned her friend’s dad saying she could not get into the Stoke Newington flat.
The Love Island star left a handwritten note for boyfriend Lewis Burton, hoping they could ‘find harmony’ Flack took a ‘small overdose’ the night before her court appearance in December when she pleaded not guilty to assaulting Burton.
Her mother believes Flack was ‘let down’ by the authorities and that the CPS staged a ‘show trial.’ Flack was angry at friends for calling an ambulance the night before she died, after they believed she was having a breakdown.
Flack could not be detained under the Mental Health Act and agreed to go to the GP the morning she died. The first witness statement was that of Stephen Teasdale, father of Flack’s friend Louise, who said he went to the scene after Flack’s 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.’ Paramedic David O’Toole said he entered the property later 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. It referenced, positively, ‘Lewis’, believed to be Flack’s boyfriend Lewis Burton. The note read: ‘I hope me and Lewis can one day find harmony’, the court heard.
Caroline left a note for Lewis (Picture: Instagram) 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.
A post-mortem examination found no traces of alcohol, but the presence of zopiclone, used for insomnia, just above the therapeutic range, and diazepam was present in a therapeutic amount.
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. Flack had been arrested on suspicion of assault on December 13, after an incident with boyfriend Burton the previous day.
She said: ‘I was told that Caroline was in the middle of a media crisis and could not sleep. She was incredibly distressed and needed some sleeping aids. ‘I replied saying I could go to review her that day, but I said I was a wellness doctor. Prior to message I wasn’t aware who she was. I was escorted to her room – she was very distressed and tearful. She was scrolling the media reports on her phone.”
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, but said that she had been drinking excessively to numb herself.
Dr Brian Wells said Flack had apparently ‘taken a small overdose’ and was ‘fully conscious although somewhat inebriated’ the day before her first court appearance on December 23. He said: ‘Inside I found a lady who was inebriated in bed, vomiting into a waste bin. ‘There were others present being supportive.
It transpired the client was Caroline. ‘She was due at Islington Magistrates Court the following morning and had become distressed – she drunk alcohol and impulsively taken a mixture of medications.’ Caroline took a ‘small overdose’ the day before her court appearance (Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire) He said Flack strongly said she did not have suicidal intent and recommended she did not need to go to hospital. Lewis Burton, Flack’s boyfriend with whom she had the argument which resulted in the court case, said in a written statement: ‘The last time he 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. Flack’s mother Chris could be seen wiping tears from her eyes as her statement was read in court. She said: ‘I believe Caroline was seriously let down by the authorities and in particular the CPS 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. ‘There was disputed evidence in court.
The result of the media attention of this hearing forced Caroline to leave her home which she loved. ‘Being well known should not allow special treatment, but should not allow making an example of someone.’ The statement continued: ‘Through all of this Caroline was told not to speak, not to tell her side of the story. ‘The only person who was hurt that night was Caroline.
‘An awful picture was sold to the press, Caroline was told not to speak while all the time her heart was breaking. 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”.
She asked if all the family would go with her to court and we said of course. The inquest heard that Flack died by hanging (Picture: PA) ‘I was called on Saturday lunchtime to say Carrie (Caroline) had died. ‘I believe she was heartbroken.’ Chris continued: ‘I know nothing will bring her back, but I do want people to know what a lovely, kind, generous person she was. ‘She never spoke badly of anyone and was totally loyal, that’s why she was always devastated when people close to her were happy to let her personal life appear in print.’
Flack’s twin sister Jody said in a written statement, read in part by the coroner Mary Hassell, that Flack was ‘in a very anxious state of mind’ before her death and said an ambulance had been called for her four times previously. She said: ‘Heartbreak is something Caroline found extremely difficult. ‘She attempted to take her own life the night before she appeared in court. I believe the shame … was too much to deal with. ‘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.’ Ms Flack added: ‘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 claimed that sections of the press were ‘hounding her’ and had paid the neighbours to inform her on their movements. Ms Flack 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.’ Giving evidence via video link, which cut out throughout the hearing, friend Louise Teasdale described her friend’s attitude towards life as like a ‘yo-yo’, sometimes being positive about the future and other times saying ‘what’s the point?’
Asked by the coroner Mary Hassell: ‘Did she say she actually wanted to kill herself?’, Ms Teasdale replied: ‘Yes.’…
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.’
The star was pronounced dead at her London home (Picture: Anthony Harvey/REX/Shutterstock) 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 Ms 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 ever 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.’
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.’
She was advised to go to the hospital, but ‘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.’
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.’
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.
Mollie and Louise spent the evening with Caroline (Picture: Instagram) The coroner, Mary Hassell, asked: ‘Did you say, you need to stay with her until she’s at the GP’s surgery?’, with Mr Rumore saying: ‘It could have been worth having a discussion saying we need to make sure she gets there, but that was not our original plan – we wanted her in hospital that night.’
He explained it was not possible to detain Flack under the Mental Health Act, saying: ‘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.’
Mr Rumore said he did not recall being told about Flack’s prior suicidal tendencies by her friends but said, in hindsight, ‘We did want a better outcome and make sure we are as thorough as possible.’ A female paramedic who spent up to an hour at Flack’s home, whose name was not given in court, said: ‘For me, she had taken some medications for trying to sleep. ‘Whether that was the truth or not, that’s what I was provided. At that moment I didn’t believe she was at risk of suicide or self-harm.’1
Ms Grosberg argued this was not accurate and claimed Flack was slurring her words. Dr Jonathan Garabette, a consultant psychiatrist who treated Flack, described how the celebrity suffered a deterioration of her mental state in December 2019 following the assault allegation.
The statement said he had concerns regarding the likely impact of ongoing court case, saying: ‘It appears likely her mental state will be vulnerable for further degradation.’ His statement also said Flack had previously spoke about another ‘alleged ongoing harassment’, but it was not stated in open court who this involved, although the coroner said it did not involve her boyfriend Lewis Burton.
Lisa Ramsarran, a deputy chief Crown prosecutor in north London, told the court that the case involving Flack and her boyfriend Lewis Burton was referred to CPS Direct (which deals with priority cases), which considered evidence supplied by police investigators before authorising a charge. She said the evidence included a 999 call that had been made by Mr Burton, a number of body-worn footage extracts and documentary evidence of an injury to Mr Burton.
The prosecution was also provided with a summary of what Flack said in her interview. Ms Ramsarran said: ‘The initial prosecutor who considered the evidence came to the view, applying the code, that there was sufficient evidence to support a charge (of actual bodily harm), but that because Caroline Flack had made admissions, she determined a caution would be an appropriate disposal.’
However, guidance states that it would be rare to offer a caution in domestic abuse cases, which are treated ‘particularly seriously’. Ms Ramsarran said: ‘There was evidence Burton had a cracked head, and Caroline Flack was beating up.
It was also suggested on the call Caroline Flack was trying to kill him, and he asked for police assistance at the address. ‘Mr Burton, at the time, reported to police he had been hit with a lamp. He later relayed to an officer when he was in the bedroom of the property… he indicated to officers that the desk lamp was used. ‘Caroline in her police interview provided information that she used her phone to cause the injury sustained to Mr Burton.
‘I think the overall position, in terms of the prosecution case, is that Mr Burton had been struck with an object to the head. It wasn’t clear if it was the lamp or the phone, but the prosecution case is that he was struck hard enough to his head that he was bleeding profusely, when police arrived, on his head.’
Ms Ramsarran said the prosecution initially determined that the evidential test for a charge against Caroline Flack had been met, but that public interest was not met on the basis that Flack had made an admission. She said: ‘I understand the police did not feel this (a caution) was a suitable disposal in this case. I think there was a suggestion at first she hadn’t hit Lewis Burton over the head, then that he had been reading text messages on his phone which she felt confirmed her suspicions of his fidelity.
‘Caroline’s version of events was that she had tapped Mr Burton on the head, firstly on the leg to wake him up, then in a flicking gesture made contact with his head at a time when she still had her phone in her hand. She was surprised thereafter to see an injury that was then bleeding.’ The Metropolitan Police were informed of the intention to caution Caroline Flack for assault.
However, the police asked for a review of the case by the Crown Prosecution Service legal manager, who Ms Ramsarran said ‘came to the view that a caution was not an appropriate disposal’, and that there was sufficient evidence and it was in the public interest to authorise a charge of assault by beating.
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“I FELT NUMB’ Love Island’s Caroline Flack reveals year-long battle with depression and candidly opens up on ‘raw love’ for ex-fiance Andrew Brady — (The Sun)
8 Dec 2018, 23:00Updated: 9 Dec 2018, 10:36
The TV presenter, 39, confesses life behind the scenes of her showbiz lifestyle has been a rough ride speaking on her panic attacks and reliance on anti-depressants.
STRUTTING down the X Factor runway, Caroline Flack was the beaming face of Saturday night TV.
But behind the stage make-up and dazzling designer frocks, she was masking a secret pain — a year-long battle with depression.
Caroline Flack has opened up about her battle with panic attacks and depression
Caroline Flack has opened up about her battle with panic attacks and depressionCredit: Simon Jones – The Sun
Three years on, the presenter has told of her panic attacks and becoming reliant on anti-depressants.
Caroline, who won Strictly Come Dancing in 2014 and landed the X Factor gig alongside Olly Murs the following year, cites the 2016 Baftas as her lowest point, when host Graham Norton cruelly joked about her in front of six million viewers.
But her problems dated from long before then. She says: “It all started the day after I won Strictly. I woke up and felt like somebody had covered my body in clingfilm.
“I couldn’t get up and just couldn’t pick myself up at all that next year. I felt ridiculous, being so sad when I’d just won the biggest show on telly and had such an amazing job.
Caroline alongside dance partner Pasha Kovalev as they won Strictly Come Dancing in 2014Credit: PA:Press Association
“However, I felt like I was being held together by a piece of string which could snap at any time.
“People see the celebrity lifestyle and assume everything is perfect, but we’re just like everyone else. Everyone is battling something emotional behind closed doors — that’s life. Fame doesn’t make you happy.
“Anti-depressants helped me get up in the morning, and stopped me from being sad, but what they also do is stop you from being happy.
“So I was just in this numb state. I stopped laughing at jokes, and that’s just not me.
In 2015 it was announced that Flack, along with Olly Murs would replace Dermot O’Leary as the hosts of The X Factor
In 2015 it was announced that Flack, along with Olly Murs would replace Dermot O’Leary as the hosts of The X FactorCredit: Splash News
“I came off them after six months, as I realised feeling something was better than feeling nothing at all.”
Caroline, 39, had visited her doctor after having a panic attack in her dressing room moments before going live on The X Factor.
She was prescribed citalopram — a type of antidepressant used to treat depression and quash panic attacks — but she didn’t tell her family, friends or boss Simon Cowell of her troubles.
She says: “I didn’t want to be a burden. It was a really lonely place. While anti-depressants can work for some people, I became a little too reliant on them — if you forget to take one, you feel awful.
Both Caroline and Olly Murs were criticised by viewers of The X Factor during their 2015 hosting stint
Both Caroline and Olly Murs were criticised by viewers of The X Factor during their 2015 hosting stint Credit: Handout
“The only way I can describe it is that it was like going around a roundabout about 300 times. They’re a whirlwind for your body.
“I remember being at the photoshoot for my book cover and having to sit down because I was so dizzy. I couldn’t tell anyone the reason, that I was coming off anti-depressants.
“I eventually went to a juice retreat in the Mediterranean to wean myself off them. It was the only way I could get them out of my body.”
Both Caroline and Olly were lambasted by viewers of The X Factor during their 2015 hosting stint.
Caroline was the nation’s favourite in the 2014 series of Strictly Come Dancing
Caroline was the nation’s favourite in the 2014 series of Strictly Come DancingCredit: Handout
Size 8 Caroline was “fat-shamed” one week while Olly, 34, was ridiculed after mixing up the judges’ scores and prematurely announcing a contestant’s departure.
Caroline says: “I was embarrassed about everything, what had happened, how I felt and just embarrassed about who I was.
“I felt like a bit of a joke. We were getting slammed week in, week out and we couldn’t do anything right.
“I could have walked on water one week and been told I couldn’t swim. Even if I’d gone on there, done seven pirouettes and the splits, and magically whipped out some rabbits from my hat, people would have gone, ‘But where’s Dermot?’. I was fighting a losing battle.
Caroline Flack compares being on anti-depressants to ‘going around a roundabout 300 times’
Caroline Flack compares being on anti-depressants to ‘going around a roundabout 300 times’Credit: Simon Jones – The Sun
“Even though my time on The X Factor ended badly, I still feel very grateful to Simon Cowell. He gave me a job that I adored and it’s given me so many chances.
“But as much as I would put on a happy face, backstage I’d be in tears with my make-up artist.”
Caroline speaks frankly about her feelings over Norton’s opening joke at the 2016 Baftas, in which he said her future return as The X Factor’s host was less likely than the executed Anne Boleyn returning to BBC2 historical drama Wolf Hall.
She added: “I was sitting there in my dress, I didn’t have a plus one, and Graham’s first joke was basically, ‘There’s more chance of Anne Boleyn returning to Wolf Hall’.
Caroline is in rehearsal for her West End debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago
Caroline is in rehearsal for her West End debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago
Caroline Flack gives fans sneak preview of Chicago The Musical rehearsals
I’m sure it was quite funny but not so much when you’re the person living that life, sat in the Baftas and the cameras are on you.
“I remember the person next to me touching my arm in sympathy and just trying not to cry. I went home pretty much straight after. It was really horrible and my lowest point.”
Despite being best mates when they landed the lucrative X Factor job, her friendship with Olly suffered after the show.
But while he has also admitted battling depression after the series, in the past year they have rekindled their friendship.
Caroline says: “Olly and I didn’t have a falling out but our confidence was really knocked, and it took its toll on us.
Caroline spoke exclusively to The Sun on Sunday’s Clemmie MoodyCredit: Simon Jones – The Sun
“Although we never really stopped talking, we drifted apart while we processed what had happened. It was like a break-up — a thing neither of us wanted to talk about. But recently we’ve started speaking again and we want to get back to how we were pre-X Factor.”
Today Caroline is happy and healthy, and 2019 promises to be her busiest year to date.
Meanwhile, she will be back on our TV screens in Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas special, she recently filmed the Love Island Christmas show and she is about to embark on her biggest role yet — making her West End debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago.
Caroline and her former fiance Andrew Brady
Caroline and her former fiance Andrew BradyCredit: Refer to Caption
Even sweeter, two years after Graham Norton’s joke, in May this year Caroline was back at the Baftas — this time collecting the award for Best Reality Series for Love Island.
With her life back on an even keel, she is keen to quash the stigma surrounding mental health problems.
She adds: “You would tell people if you have taken Nurofen or Lemsip, but not anti-depressants.
“There’s a stigma around it. I used to go to the chemist to collect my prescription on a Sunday, thinking the pharmacist had probably seen me on telly the night before.
Caroline says Andrew and herself need to get happy before they can get back together
Caroline says Andrew and herself need to get happy before they can get back together Credit: BackGrid
“I was mortified, which I now know is ridiculous and was all in my head.”
While Caroline’s professional life has never been better, she has had a chequered personal one lately.
She has had an on/off romance with Apprentice contestant Andrew Brady, 28, to whom she got engaged three months after meeting in January, but split soon after.
As well as a heated bust-up on holiday in Portugal in the autumn, last month they had a row which led to Andrew prank-calling an ambulance.
Caroline says: “We have a very passionate, raw love but at the minute we just need to look after ourselves. We need to be happy in ourselves before we can be together, I think — and that’s what we’re doing. I think we want the best for each other.”
Conversation closed. And anyway, these days Caroline is fine as she is, irrespective of the state of her love life.
As she explains: “I have a great life, a lovely house, and I know I am very lucky. I don’t want anyone to ever think I am a victim, because I’m not.”