Caroline Flack left note for Lewis Burton before taking own life, inquest finds

The inquest into the former Love Island host Caroline Flack’s death resumed today at Poplar Coroner’s Court.

A four-minute hearing was previously opened and adjourned on February 19, when Flack’s provisional cause of death was given as suspension by ligature.

No members of Flack’s family were present today, although her mother Chris Flack and twin sister Jody Flack were among those watching proceedings via videolink.

The hearing was held adhering to social distancing rules, with witnesses and lawyers listening in remotely and allocation made for some journalists to be present in court.

Coroner Mary Hassell welcomed Flack’s mother and sister to the hearing, and 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.

The first witness statement was that of Stephen Teasdale, father of Flack’s friend Louise, who said he went to the scene after Flack’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.’

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’.

He said 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.

It referenced, positively, ‘Lewis’, believed to be Flack’s boyfriend Lewis Burton.

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.

A post-mortem examination found no traces of alcohol, but the presence of zopiclone, used for insomnia, just above the therapeutic range.

Diazepam was present in a therapeutic amount.

Pathologist Professor Michael Sheaff found Flack died from hanging.

Hours after Caroline’s death aged 40 was confirmed on February 15, a lawyer for her family confirmed that the TV star had taken her own life.

A statement from the star’s family read: ‘We can confirm that our Caroline passed away today on the 15th February. 

‘We would ask that the press respect the privacy of the family at this difficult time.’ 

Her body was identified by her twin sister Jody.

The inquest comes after Caroline was remembered at the Bafta Television Awards during the In Memoriam segment. 

Caroline was best known for hosting the first five series of ITV2’s Love Island, as well as winning Strictly Come Dancing and hosting The Xtra Factor and, for one series, the main show with Olly Murs.

She stepped down from the winter series of Love Island after she was arrested on suspicion of the assault of her boyfriend Lewis Burton, with Laura Whitmore taking on the role.

Flack pleaded not guilty to assault, and was awaiting trial at the time of her death.

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’.

The TV star’s mother Chris said her daughter’s legal team and psychologist warned about the potential for the former Strictly champion to kill herself, saying: ‘The CPS were fully aware of these matters and the risk when they decided to continue the prosecution’.

She described an allegation that her daughter hit Mr Burton over the head with a lamp as ‘false’, saying it was denied by both Mr Burton – who had not supported the prosecution – and Flack and ‘was completely inconsistent with the injury that Mr Burton sustained’.

Flack’s family posthumously shared a social media post Caroline 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.’

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