THE TWO-DAY inquest into the death of television presenter Caroline Flack is due to conclude today, 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 yesterday 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.
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 died by suicide on 15 February.
She was discovered by her close friend’s father, hours after she was last seen, in her Stoke Newington home in north-east London.
Flack’s mother Chris Flack wiped away tears on video link as her statement was read to Poplar Coroner’s Court yesterday.
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.
“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 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 Burton.
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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 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.
“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 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”.
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