Caroline Flack’s friends and twin sister tried desperately to break into the house where she killed herself after leaving a note about Lewis Burton, the star’s inquest heard today.
The first witness statement was that of Stephen Teasdale, father of Flack’s friend Louise, who said he went to the scene after the star’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.’
On a coffee table was a note that referenced, positively, ‘Lewis’, believed to be Flack’s boyfriend Lewis Burton.
Caroline Flack attending National Television Awards at the O2 in London on January 22, 2019
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, which referenced ‘Lewis’.
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.
Coroner Mary Hassell welcomed Flack’s mother, Christine, and sister, Jody, to the hearing. They are watching via a video link.
In her opening remarks resuming the inquest, she said: ‘We are here simply to find the answer to four questions – who died, when they died, where they died and how they came about their death.’
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.
Pathologist Professor Michael Sheaff found Flack died from hanging.
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.
‘She said she had been drinking excessively to numb herself,’ Ms Lewis said. ‘She said sleep had been impossible.’
Before her death, Flack had been due to stand trial for assaulting her boyfriend, former tennis player and model Lewis Burton in December, after police arriving at the bloodstained scene described it looking like ‘a horror movie’.
She immediately stepped back from her forthcoming presenting duties.
Louise Teasdale with Flack in London in 2014. Louise was a friend of the presenter and found her body
Lewis Burton told the court today 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 family had increased concerns about her mental state as her trial loomed, while Mr Burton also pleaded to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to drop the case.
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’.
Flack’s management team criticised the CPS for conducting a ‘show trial’ which prompted a review into her death.
However, the CPS found the case was handled ‘appropriately’.
Flack’s mother Chris said her daughter’s legal team and psychologist warned about the potential for the former Strictly champion to kill herself.
‘The CPS were fully aware of these matters and the risk when they decided to continue the prosecution,’ Mrs Flack said.
She described an allegation that her daughter hit Mr Burton over the head with a lamp as ‘false’.
She also said the claim was denied by both Mr Burton and Flack and ‘was completely inconsistent with the injury that Mr Burton sustained’.
Caroline and Jody Flack at an Oxfam event in London in 2014. Jody will be watching today’s proceedings via video link
Flack’s family also posthumously shared a social media post the troubled star had written but was persuaded by advisers not to publish before her death in which she disclosed having an ’emotional breakdown’.
She wrote: ‘I’ve been having some sort of emotional breakdown for a very long time.
‘But I am not a domestic abuser. The reason I am talking today is because my family can’t take anymore.
‘I’ve lost my job. My home. My ability to speak. And the truth has been taken out of my hands and used as entertainment.
‘I’ve been pressing the snooze button on many stresses in my life – for my whole life.
‘I’ve accepted shame and toxic opinions on my life for over 10 years and yet told myself it’s all part of my job. No complaining.
‘The problem with brushing things under the carpet is …. they are still there and one day someone is going to lift that carpet up and all you are going to feel is shame and embarrassment.’
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.
To contact the Samaritans, call 116 123, email [email protected] or visit https://www.samaritans.org/
The 40-year-old former Love Island and X Factor star was found hanged at her home in Stoke Newington, north-east London, on February 15, 2020
Source: Daily Mail AU