Caroline Flack took her own life after she found out she was being prosecuted, inquest rules
Caroline Flack took her own life after knowing she would certainly be prosecuted for an alleged assault on her boyfriend, a coroner has said.
The TV presenter was found dead at her home in Stoke Newington, north London, in February, as she faced an allegation she attacked Lewis Burton.
The two-day inquest into her death heard her mental health deteriorated and she attempted suicide after being arrested on suspicion of assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton in December 2019.
The inquest has already been told how Flack had talked about suicide when she became extremely upset over fears her reputation could be damaged by the court case and the media intrusion.
In her findings on Thursday, coroner Mary Hassell said Flack intended to kill herself and had “fluctuating mental ill health, she had had struggles in the past” and these troubles only increased as she got more famous.
“It was played out in the national press – and that was incredibly difficult for her.
“She faced the prospect of not working in the job she loved, losing a great deal.”
She added that Flack “knew she was being prosecuted for certainty, and she knew she would face the media, press, publicity – it would all come down upon her”.
“To me, that’s it in essence.”
Flack’s mother Chris nodded and cried. She told the coroner: “I totally agree, I think you got it spot on.”
The inquest earlier heard Flack admitted to police multiple times that she hit her boyfriend.
On Thursday, a section from a police incident report from the alleged assault was read out at Poplar Coroner’s Court.
It said: “Ms Flack was naked and covered in blood. Mr Burton was in boxer shorts and bleeding from a cut on his forehead.
“He made an allegation he had been asleep in bed with Ms Flack. He had been suddenly woken by her hitting him on the head with some force.
“Flack made a number of admissions in the presence of police officers, statements such as: ‘I hit him, he was cheating on me’.”
“At this time it is unclear what object was used to assault Mr Burton. He assumed it was a desk fan or a lamp.
“[The] phone has been seized as it has a significant amount of blood on it, and a crack on one of the corners.”
In Flack’s account, given to police at the scene and read out in the court, the presenter said: “I admit I did it. I used the phone. I had his phone in one hand, and my phone in the other.
“I whacked him round the head – there’s no excuse for it, I was upset.”
Hassell asked Detective Inspector Lauren Bateman, of the Met, whether she felt Flack had made an admission.
That would mean she could be dealt with by way of a police caution as opposed to a court case.
However, DI Bateman said that, during a later police interview, “things were said differently” and “it was unclear what Caroline was alluding to”.
Flack said she flicked Burton “to wake him up”, the inquest heard, and had not believed she caused injury.
“In my view, it wasn’t a clear admission of what had happened,” DI Bateman said, later adding that “by no means am I saying Caroline is a domestic abuser”.
Asked if Flack was treated differently because she was a celebrity, as asserted by Flack’s family, DI Bateman said she “was not biased and I treat everyone the same”.
Flack’s mother Chris said her daughter was taken from the scene and Burton was left there.
She told DI Bateman: “You took her away, he (Burton) was allowed to take pictures of the blood of Caroline, send them to friends, and they appeared in the press.
“You didn’t investigate it.
“If it had been… an ordinary person, you wouldn’t have prosecuted.
“I see domestic abuse and I just think you should be disgusted with yourself so there is nothing we can do to bring Caroline back. I hope in hindsight you do regret this.”
Flack’s mother blamed the police’s actions for her daughter’s distressed state prior to her death saying it was because “because you put an appeal through”.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutor Alison Wright did not believe pursuing the case was in the public interest, the inquest heard.
In a report of the case, she said “the police are not willing to administer a caution” and “claim I have taken a biased view of the case because Caroline Flack is a celebrity”.
Prosecutor Kate Weiss reviewed the decision to charge Flack a week after the alleged assault.
She said that the violence involved, Burton being asleep, the rarity of issuing cautions for a domestic violence case and the police’s claim Flack showed no remorse in interview meant a caution was “not appropriate”, the inquest heard.
A note referencing “Lewis” – believed to be Burton – in a positive way was found in a magazine after she died, the inquest was told on Wednesday.
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In an unpublished social media post, released by her family after her death, Flack insisted she was not an abuser and described the incident as an “argument and an accident”.
Chris also said media attention for a court hearing “forced Caroline to leave her home which she loved”.
“Being well-known should not allow special treatment, but should not allow making an example of someone,” she said, adding that Flack was told not to speak about her case.
“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.
“She never spoke badly of anyone and was totally loyal, that’s why she was always devastated when people close to her were happy to let her personal life appear in print.”