Television presenter Caroline Flack was “seriously let down by the authorities” and “hounded” by the press over her forthcoming trial in the weeks before she killed herself, her inquest has heard.
The 40-year-old, well known for hosting Love Island and The X Factor, was found hanged at her home in Stoke Newington, north-east London, on February 15 2020 amid concerns her hard-earned life and reputation “was falling apart”.
She was said to be particularly concerned about her forthcoming trial for assaulting her boyfriend, former tennis player and model Lewis Burton, in December, and had tried to kill herself multiple times between her arrest and her death, her friends said.
Flack’s mother Chris and twin sister Jody both outlined concerns they had about the presenter, accusing the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of a “show trial” based on her celebrity.
Flack denied the assault but told friends she would rather go to prison than have her private life forensically examined.
Her mother could be seen weeping on video link as her statement was read at Poplar Coroner’s 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.
“Being well known should not allow special treatment, but should not allow making an example of someone.
“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.
“I was called on Saturday lunchtime (February 15 2020) to say Carrie (Caroline) had died.
“I believe she was heartbroken.
“I know nothing will bring her back, but I do want people to know what a lovely, kind, generous person she was.”
Flack’s mother also told the inquest a blood-stained image of the December crime scene had actually been sent by Mr Lewis to a former girlfriend, who passed it on to the press.
Twin sister Jody said she believed Flack tried to kill herself in December, ahead of her first appearance in court for assault.
She said: “I believe the shame… was too much to deal with.
“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.”
Brian Wells, a doctor called to Flack’s hotel room the night before her first court appearance, said Flack was inebriated and had apparently “taken a small overdose”.
However, she was not suicidal, nor did she need hospital treatment, the inquest heard.
Tamsin Lewis, a Mayfair wellness doctor, was also contacted by Flack’s team soon after her arrest in December where the celebrity reported “having panicky feelings all day… a sense of impending doom”.
Dr Lewis said: “I was told that Caroline was in the middle of a media crisis and could not sleep.
“She was very distressed and tearful. She was scrolling the media reports on her phone.”
Jody Flack also said sections of the press were “hounding her” and had paid the neighbours to inform them on her 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.”
Flack’s family had increased concerns about her mental state as the trial loomed, while Mr Burton also pleaded to the CPS to drop the case.
Friends said Flack sent them a message the night before she died saying she was going to kill herself.
They discovered her on her sofa having swallowed some tablets and called the emergency services.
However, paramedics were unable to persuade Flack to attend hospital, the inquest heard, nor were they able to section her as she was already in a safe space – her home.
Flack was said to have been angry at the friends for contacting emergency services because she was worried about her personal details being made public.
The friends left the following morning. She was discovered hanged a few hours later, with paramedics finding a handwritten note on an open magazine speaking about wanting to “find harmony” with her boyfriend.
Mr Burton, in his witness statement, said Flack was “very upset” the last time he saw her, although it was not stated when this was.
He said: “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.”
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”.
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.
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