Caroline Flack took her own life after finding out she was definitely going to be prosecuted for assault and feared the publicity that would come with the trial, a coroner has concluded.
Coroner Mary Hassell said the Love Island presenter’s alleged assault of boyfriend Lewis Burton being “played out in the national press” following her arrest was “incredibly difficult for her” and had a serious impact on her mental health.
Flack, 40, died at her flat in north London in February, just weeks before she was due to go on trial over the incident in December 2019. The day before her death, she had found out prosecutors were definitely pressing ahead with the case – despite her hopes that an appeal by her lawyers would lead to it being dropped.
The inquest, which took place over two days at Poplar Coroner’s Court in east London, heard that the Crown Prosecution Service initially decided to caution the star – but charged her following an appeal by police for the decision to be reviewed.
Coroner Ms Hassell made her conclusion of suicide, saying: “Although [Flack’s] 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.”
Flack’s mother Christine, who attended via video-link with the star’s twin sister, Jody, said the coroner had got it “spot on”.
Earlier in the second day, Mrs Flack told the court her daughter “was not an abuser” and accused the police and prosecutors of having it “in for” her daughter due to her “celebrity status”.
During the hearing, she confronted the detective inspector who appealed for Flack to be charged rather than cautioned.
“If it had been… an ordinary person, you wouldn’t have prosecuted,” Mrs Flack told Detective Inspector Lauren Bateman.
“I just think you should be disgusted with yourself. There is nothing we can do to bring Caroline back. I hope in hindsight you do regret this…
“She was not an abuser.”
Mrs Flack was responding to DI Bateman’s evidence, in which the detective inspector said the star was charged with assault rather than given a caution because there was no “clear” admission of guilt.
DI Bateman said Flack had given different accounts about what happened on the night of her arrest.
Mr Burton said Flack had hit him with an object while he was asleep.
When officers arrived at the scene, the couple were both injured, the detective said.
The Love Island presenter told police: “I did, I whacked him round the head like that,” while gesturing a swinging motion with her hand.
“I admit I did it,” she said. “I used the phone. I had his phone in one hand, and my phone in the other. I whacked him round the head – there’s no excuse for it, I was upset.”
She also told officers that Mr Burton was cheating on her.
DI Bateman told the inquest that in a later police interview, Flack said she had a “blurry” memory of the incident and that she had “tapped” Mr Burton on the head to wake him up.
But Mrs Flack argued that her daughter had given a consistent account of what happened, and it was Mr Burton’s account that was unreliable as he had been drinking all day and was intoxicated on the night of the incident.
She said this was a “life-changing” charge but DI Bateman “never saw Caroline” and “went on a drunken phone call”.
“I don’t think that’s the case,” the detective responded, although she said appreciated what Mrs Flack was saying.
The coroner said she was “really struggling” to see how Mr Burton’s injury could be described as “significant” given he had not needed to go to hospital, but Lisa Ramsarran, a deputy chief crown prosecutor in north London, said the wound was “not insignificant”.
Ms Ramsarran said the injury was “bleeding profusely”.
It was unclear at the time what object was used in the alleged assault on Mr Burton, but he said he assumed it was a desk fan or a lamp.
Flack’s phone was seized as there was a “significant” amount of blood on it and a crack on one of the corners.
The coroner questioned why the police decided to appeal against the caution, despite Flack having no previous convictions and no history of domestic violence.
DI Bateman said there were aggravating factors, including that an object was used, and said it was an “unprovoked attack” while Mr Burton was “essentially defenceless”.
The detective also told the court that cautions for domestic violence cases were “very rare”.
During the first day of the hearing on Wednesday, Mrs Flack asked about a photo published by some newspapers following Flack’s arrest, and told the court she believed Mr Burton had sent the picture to an ex-girlfriend.
“Lewis sent the photo of the blood and sent it to his friend,” Mrs Flack said, during evidence given by the star’s friend Mollie Grosberg.
Her twin sister, Jody, also told how the star had spent “the last few months of her life hiding inside, scared of the abuse”.
Mr Burton, 28, had said he did not support Flack’s prosecution and in a statement read by the coroner, he described how the last time he had seen her she was “very upset, in fact devastated”.
Flack left behind her twin sister Jody, elder brother Paul, elder sister Elizabeth and her parents Ian and Christine.
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK
Source : Sky News