Caroline Flack’s mum criticises police’s ‘disgusting’ treatment of TV star
- Credit: PA
The mother of Norfolk TV star Caroline Flack has criticised a police decision to appeal against a caution for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend and push for her to stand trial.
The 40-year-old former Love Island and X Factor star took her own life at her London flat on February 15.
Miss Flack, who grew up in Norfolk, had been due to stand trial for assaulting her boyfriend, former tennis player and model Lewis Burton, in December.
Police attended the presenter’s home when Mr Burton, said to be bleeding profusely from a cut to his head, phoned emergency services saying she was trying to kill him.
The Crown Prosecution Service reviewed its original decision that the presenter should receive a caution over the incident following the Metropolitan Police’s interference and subsequently pressed ahead with an assault charge.
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The second day of the inquest into Miss Flack’s death heard that the TV star was found naked and covered in blood with a self-imposed cut to her wrist when police arrived on the scene, and told officers: “I hit him (Mr Burton), he was cheating on me.”
MORE: School dance group in Norfolk to Love Island fame: Caroline Flack’s rise to stardomGiving evidence at her inquest in Poplar, east London, Det Insp Lauren Bateman said Miss Flack had not made it clear in her police interview later what she was admitting to.
She told the hearing: “Although she made some admissions at the scene, things were said differently (in interview).
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“In my view it wasn’t clear what she was admitting to.”
The inquest heard that in her police interview, Miss Flack said she flicked Mr Burton “to wake him up”, and that she did not believe she caused his injury.
The coroner, Mary Hassell, suggested Det Insp Bateman was “splitting hairs” in what she considered to be Miss Flack’s admission of guilt.
DI Bateman replied: “In my view, it wasn’t a clear admission of what had happened.”
A lack of admission meant the case could not be dealt with through a caution, the inquest was told.
The presenter’s mother Chris Flack, who still lives in Norfolk, could be seen on videolink shaking her head as Det Insp Bateman said she would not do anything differently.
Taking the opportunity to question the witness, she said: “I feel even more upset now than I did at the start.”
She added: “I’m not legal, but I have been reading up on this.
“I will never get Caroline back but she was not an abuser.”
Mrs Flack added: “She (Caroline) cut her arm (to cause serious injury to herself)...and you were putting an appeal in to get her prosecuted, you never bothered to see her.”
Det Insp Bateman replied: “To be honest I would never see a detainee in custody. Perhaps in hindsight I could have gone and spoken to her but routinely I would not do.”
Mrs Flack said: “Did you feel you needed to get involved in a minor assault? Why did you get involved?”
Det Insp Bateman replied: “I became involved because I was asked by the officers to make the appeal. The only officer who can do that is an inspector.”
Mrs Flack said her daughter was taken from the crime scene, leaving Mr Burton to remain in her home.
She told Det Insp Bateman: “You took her (Miss Flack) away, he (Mr 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.
“This girl killed herself because you put an appeal through.”
The “appeal” referenced an initial decision by prosecutors to issue Miss Flack with a caution, before Det Insp Bateman applied for a formal charge instead.
Deputy chief Crown prosecutor Lisa Ramsarran, giving evidence via video link for a second day, said she was “satisfied” by the characterisation of Lewis Burton’s injury as “significant”.
He was left with a small cut above the hairline when he was struck by Miss Flack, but did not attend hospital, the inquest heard.
Ms Ramsarran told the inquest: “I’m satisfied in the context of a charge of assault by beating, the injury is at the top end of what you might see.
“This was a significant injury.”
Coroner Mary Hassell said: “I’m really struggling to understand how this injury was regarded as significant.”
Ms Ramsarran replied: “Madam, I have given the explanation as far as I’m concerned - there was a breaking of the skin that was bleeding quite profusely at the scene.”
She added: “He was advised to get medical attention but was reluctant to do so and left the scene as quickly as possible.”
Mrs Flack could be seen shaking her head at this point.
Mrs Flack accused the Crown Prosecution Service and police of “having it in for” her daughter.
Mrs Flack told Ms Ramsarran: “After listening to you and the first lady (Det Insp Lauren Bateman), I feel even more that you had it in for Caroline.
“I now know how Caroline felt and it is not very nice.
“Thank you, coroner, for allowing us to ask questions today, it’s meant a lot.”
MORE: Caroline Flack’s family releases powerful message she wrote days before she diedOn Wednesday, friends had told the inquest how Miss Flack, who grew up in Great Hockham and East Wretham, and went to school in Watton, had serious concerns about her trial, but had met with her lawyers on February 14 thinking the case might be dropped. However, it was then that her legal team outlined the CPS’s decision - made the previous day - to go ahead with court action.
Miss Flack took a non-fatal overdose of tablets later that night, telling loved ones she was going to kill herself.
Her friends stayed with the television star overnight and left mid-morning, but were aware Miss Flack was angry with them for calling the emergency services and therefore risking the episode being made public.
Miss Flack was found hanged at home in the mid-afternoon.
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 worsened after she was arrested.
Miss 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”.
The inquest continues.