Police ‘appealed against decision to caution Caroline Flack over assault’

The Metropolitan Police appealed the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision to hand television star Caroline Flack a caution for assaulting her boyfriend because a senior officer believed the Love Island host had not clearly admitted responsibility, her inquest heard.

Police attended Flack’s home in December when her boyfriend Lewis Burton, said to be bleeding profusely from a cut to his head, phoned emergency services saying Flack was trying to kill him.

The CPS reviewed its original decision following the Met’s interference and subsequently pressed ahead with an assault charge.

The inquest heard Flack was found naked and covered in blood with a self-imposed cut to her wrist when police arrived on the scene, and told officers: “I hit him (Mr Burton), he was cheating on me.”

Giving evidence at her inquest in Poplar, east London, Detective Inspector Lauren Bateman said Flack had not made it clear in her police interview later what she was admitting to.

She told the hearing on Thursday: “Unfortunately when she was interviewed at the police station it was slightly different.

Caroline Flack
An inquest is taking place into the death of the tragic television presenter (Ian West/PA)

“In my opinion it was unclear what Caroline was alluding to.

“Although she made some admissions at the scene, things were said differently (in interview).

“In my view it wasn’t clear what she was admitting to.”

The inquest heard that in her police interview, Flack said she flicked Mr Burton “to wake him up”, and that she did not believe she caused his injury.

The coroner, Mary Hassell, suggested DI Bateman was “splitting hairs” in what she considered to be Flack’s admission of guilt.

DI Bateman replied: “In my view, it wasn’t a clear admission of what had happened.”

A lack of admission meant the case could not be dealt with through a caution, the inquest was told.

DI Bateman said she would not do anything differently if faced with the same circumstances again.

On Wednesday, friends described how Flack had serious concerns about her trial in March, but had met with her lawyers on February 14 when she thought the case might be dropped.

However, it was then that her legal team outlined the CPS’s decision – made the previous day – to go ahead with court action.

Flack took a non-fatal overdose of tablets later that night, telling loved ones she was going to kill herself.

Worried friends attended her flat and called for an ambulance, which Flack refused.

Her friends stayed with the television star overnight and left mid-morning, but were aware Flack was angry with them for calling the emergency services and therefore risking the episode being made public.

Flack was found hanged at home in the mid-afternoon.

Caroline Flack
Floral tributes placed outside Caroline Flack’s former home in North London in the aftermath of her death (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The former Love Island host’s family and close friends told the inquest on Wednesday how the 40-year-old feared losing her cherished career, and her mental health worsened after she was arrested.

Flack’s mother Chris Flack wiped away tears on video link on Wednesday when her statement was read, criticising the CPS.

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 it should not allow making an example of someone.”

Dr Jonathan Garabette, a consultant psychiatrist who treated Flack, described how she suffered a deterioration of her mental state in December 2019 and said he had concerns regarding the likely impact of the ongoing court case.

Prosecutor Lisa Ramsarran said the CPS looked at 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 to be in the public interest to authorise a charge of assault by beating, particularly considering the domestic violence allegation.

Boyfriend Mr Burton said he did not support the charge, and said Flack “was not in a good place emotionally”.

The inquest also heard an allegation from Flack’s mother that a photograph from the scene which had upset Flack when it was published in the press was passed by Mr Burton to a former partner, who subsequently leaked it.

No members of Flack’s friends and family were present for the two-day hearing. Flack’s mother, twin sister, and two close friends joined the hearing via video link, although Mr Burton was absent.

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”.

Her death 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.

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

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

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