Caroline Flack was “seriously let down by the authorities” and was “hounded” by the press over her forthcoming trial in the weeks before she died, her inquest heard.
Caroline was on bail and awaiting trial after pleading not guilty to charges of assault, following a row with her boyfriend Lewis Burton in December 2019.
At Wednesday’s inquest at Poplar Coroner’s Court in east London, coroner Mary Hassell read statements from Caroline’s mother Chris and twin sister Jody, in which they outlined concerns they had about the presenter.
“I believe Caroline was seriously let down by the authorities and in particular the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) for pursuing the case,” her mother’s statement read.
“I believe this was a show trial. I feel the prosecutor was unkind to Caroline and my family. I was threatened with arrest when I tried to speak.
“There was disputed evidence in court. The result of the media attention of this 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 added: “She lost the job she worked so hard at.
“I was with her the weekend before her death, in her new flat. When I said goodbye to her that day I never thought it would be for the last time. I kissed her and she said: ‘Bye mum’.
“She asked if all the family would go with her to court and we said of course.
“I was called on Saturday lunchtime (February 15 2020) to say Carrie (Caroline) had died. 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.”
Twin sister Jody said she believed the TV star tried to take her own life in December, ahead of her first appearance at the magistrates court for the assault charge.
She said Caroline was “in a very anxious state of mind” before her death and said an ambulance had been called for her four times previously.
“Heartbreak is something Caroline found extremely difficult,” she said.
“She attempted to take her own life the night before she appeared in court. I believe the shame … was too much to deal with.”
A doctor was called to Caroline’s hotel room the night before her court appearance. However, he deemed that she was not suicidal, nor did she need hospital treatment, the inquest heard.
Caroline’s sister added: “She was called a ‘killer’ and an ‘abuser’ on the front of the newspapers.
“The press and the public found this a very entertaining angle, and was spiralling out of control.
“Her life and reputation she worked hard to build was falling apart … because of a false accusation. It was our belief it would not be happening to her if she wasn’t in the public eye.
“At worst, her career and reputation, so precious to her, had been taken away.”
She said sections of the press were “hounding her” and had paid the neighbours to inform them on her movements.
“Caroline spent the last few months of her life hiding inside, scared of the abuse,” she said. “Caroline seemed very sad the day before her death – she seemed to have lost her fight.”
The Flack family had increased concerns about her mental state as the trial loomed, while Lewis also pleaded to the CPS to drop the case.
He said she was “very upset” the last time he saw her, although it was not stated when this was.
He said: “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.”
Her death prompted an outpouring of sorrow from celebrity friends, colleagues and fans, who referenced one of Caroline’s social media posts from December in which she urged people to “be kind”.
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Outside of Australia, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.