Caroline Flack inquest to conclude amid claims she faced ‘show trial’

Caroline Flack inquest to conclude amid claims she faced ‘show trial’
Caroline Flack inquest

The two-day inquest into the death of tragic television presenter Caroline Flack is due to conclude on Thursday, amid a backdrop of accusations her prosecution was a “show trial” based on her celebrity status.

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 spiralled after she was arrested on suspicion of assaulting her boyfriend following a disturbance at her home in December 2019.

Prosecutor Lisa Ramsarran told the inquest how the original decision to give Flack a caution for the alleged attack on model Lewis Burton was challenged by the Metropolitan Police, prompting a review to decide progressing with an assault charge was in the public interest after all.

Caroline Flack was a presenter on Love Island (Ian West/PA)

Flack’s friends said she believed the case was going to be dropped in the new year, but she met with her lawyers on Valentine’s Day 2020 to discover she would face trial for assault the following month.

Her twin sister Jody said sections of the press were also “hounding her” at the time.

Flack, who attempted suicide several times following her arrest two months earlier, killed herself on February 15.

She was discovered by her close friend’s father, hours after she was last seen, in her Stoke Newington home in north-east London.

But Flack’s mother Chris Flack wiped away tears on video link as her statement was read to Poplar Coroner’s Court on Wednesday.

She said: “I believe Caroline was seriously let down by the authorities and in particular the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) for pursuing the case.

“I believe this was a show trial.

Caroline Flack won Strictly with Pasha Kovalev in 2014 (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

“Being well known should not allow special treatment, but it should not allow making an example of someone.”

Friend Mollie Grosberg described how the former X Factor presenter’s mental health had suffered following her arrest, stepping aside from her Love Island presenting role in the wake of the legal action.

She said: “Normally the kind of person she was, she could pick herself up.

But she couldn’t after December … she lost who she was and she couldn’t get it back.

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 Ms 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”.

“Sometimes she talked about taking her own life when she was extremely upset,” he said.

Caroline Flack leaving Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court where she pleaded not guilty to assaulting boyfriend Lewis Burton in December 2019 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“The media were constantly bashing her character, writing hurtful stories… generally hounding her daily.”

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.

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 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 had died.

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

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