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Caroline Flack killed herself after being told prosecution was certain

PUBLISHED: 15:59 06 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:44 07 August 2020

Caroline Flack attending the ITV Gala at the London Palladium. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Caroline Flack attending the ITV Gala at the London Palladium. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Norfolk TV star Caroline Flack took her own life because she feared the publicity after discovering she was definitely going to be prosecuted for assaulting her boyfriend, a coroner has ruled.

Love Island presenter Caroline Flack at the British Academy Television Awards 2018. Picture: Ian West/PA WireLove Island presenter Caroline Flack at the British Academy Television Awards 2018. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

The 40-year-old former Love Island and X Factor star died at her London flat on February 15.

Miss Flack, who grew up in Norfolk, had been due to stand trial for assaulting her boyfriend, former tennis player and model Lewis Burton, in December.

The inquest into her death at Poplar, east London, had heard from her family that she was “seriously let down by the authorities” and “hounded” by sections of the media over her forthcoming trial in the weeks before she killed herself.

Floral tributes placed outside Caroline Flack's former home in North London. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA WireFloral tributes placed outside Caroline Flack's former home in North London. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

MORE: Caroline Flack’s family releases powerful message she wrote days before she died

Coroner Mary Hassell said the fact the alleged assault case was “played out in the national press” was “incredibly difficult for her”, and she feared the loss of her hard-fought career.

Returning a conclusion of suicide, she said: “Although her general fluctuating (mental) state was a background and important in her death, I find the reason for her taking her life was she now knew she was being prosecuted for certainty, and she knew she would face the media, press, publicity - it would all come down upon her.

“To me that’s it in essence.”

A queue outside Poplar Coroner's Court, London, following the resumption of the inquest into the death of Caroline Flack. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA WireA queue outside Poplar Coroner's Court, London, following the resumption of the inquest into the death of Caroline Flack. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The presenter’s mother Chris Flack, who still lives in Norfolk, wept as she told the coroner over video-link: “I totally agree, I think you got it spot on.”

Mrs Flack had earlier criticised the decision of a senior police officer to appeal, prompting the Crown Prosecution Service to review its original decision that the presenter should receive a caution over the alleged assault.

She had accused the police and prosecutors of having it “in for” her daughter, accusing them of taking her to court due to her “celebrity status”.

Miss Flack had admitted hitting Mr Burton when officers were called to her home in London in December 2019, saying she did so because she found out he was cheating on her, the inquest heard.

Prosecutors decided to charge Flack with assault after Det Insp Lauren Bateman, the Metropolitan Police inspector on duty at the time, contested their initial decision that she should receive a caution over the incident.

Mrs Flack accused prosecutors of wanting to proceed with the case, despite concerns about the 40-year-old’s mental health.

She told deputy chief Crown prosecutor Lisa Ramsarran on Thursday: “After listening to you and the first lady (Ms Bateman), I feel even more that you had it in for Caroline.

“I now know how Caroline felt and it is not very nice.”

Ms Ramsarran said the code for prosecutors was correctly applied, while both the police and the CPS said they would not do anything differently.

MORE: School dance group in Norfolk to Love Island fame: Caroline Flack’s rise to stardom

The inquest had heard the presenter’s mental health deteriorated weeks before she was due to stand trial.

Friends had told the hearing how the TV star had met with her lawyers on February 14 thinking the case might be dropped. Instead, her legal team outlined the CPS’s decision - made the previous day - to go ahead with court action.

Miss Flack, who grew up in Great Hockham and East Wretham, and went to school in Watton, took a non-fatal overdose of tablets later that night, telling loved ones she was going to kill herself.

Her friends stayed with her at her flat overnight and left mid-morning on February 15. Miss Flack was found hanged at home in the mid-afternoon.

Prosecutor Ms Ramsarran said the CPS looked at Miss Flack’s mental health when the case was first reviewed, including evidence that the television personality self-harmed at the crime scene when she allegedly assaulted Mr Burton.

However, it was decided it was in the public interest to authorise a charge of assault by beating, particularly considering the domestic violence allegation.

Miss Flack’s death prompted an outpouring of sorrow from celebrity friends, colleagues and fans, who referenced one of the former Strictly winner’s social media posts from December in which she urged people to “be kind”.

• For help and support visit www.norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk. Alternatively call the Samaritans 24/7 free helpline on 116123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org


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