Justin Fashanu found hanged in lock-up garage

JUSTIN FASHANU, the footballer charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy in the United States, has been found dead in a garage in east London, police said yesterday. The former striker, once rated one of the country's brightest young stars, had fled to Britain following the charge and police sources said it is believed he hanged himself from the rafters of the garage.

His body was found by a member of the public in a lock-up garage, used as a car park, in Shoreditch on Saturday afternoon.

A post-mortem examination proved inconclusive but further tests are being carried out. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said they were not treating the death as suspicious. Eyewitnesses said he had been seen drinking in one of the nearby gay bars on Friday afternoon. He had seemed "chirpy".

The unnamed teenager allegedly assaulted by Fashanu in the US was one of six - all below the drinking age for Maryland of 21 - who spent the evening drinking beer at Fashanu's house. He claimed he went to bed around midnight and woke in Fashanu's bed eight hours later to find he was being sexually assaulted by the football star.

Fashanu, 37, a born-again Christian, was questioned and charged following the alleged incident on 25 March. A warrant for his arrest was issued by police in Howard County, Maryland, a week later when they arrived at his flat and found it empty and his clothes gone. According to court documents, a medical examination found evidence of sexual assault.

Fashanu, who denied the allegations, was charged with second-degree sexual assault - an offence which carries a maximum 20-year jail term and first- and second-degree assault.

Eric Hall, a football agent who arranged for Fashanu to sell the story of his homosexuality to a newspaper in 1990, said yesterday that he felt "so guilty" after illness prevented him from returning a telephone call from Fashanu last week. "I had kept in touch with him, and little did I know last week he phoned me from America. I hadn't heard from him for quite a few months." Fashanu, the first prominent British sportsman to be openly gay, had a notoriously difficult relationship with his younger brother John, the former Wimbledon and England striker.

On Friday, John said he had not spoken to his brother for seven years, but yesterday his lawyer, Henri Brandman, said he was "shocked and distressed. Although there were periods of disagreement between them, there were also many occasions when they have enjoyed special times together", he said.

Justin Fashanu was acknowledged as the better player of the two brothers but the macho world of football did not take kindly to his revelation of homosexuality eight years ago.

He was speedily dropped by Nottingham Forest, in the First Division (now the Premiership), and found himself playing for Torquay United in the Third Division. He was bitter about his fate and blamed what he saw as a deep-seated prejudice in the English game. "You have to understand that footballers are very narrow-minded people. When you put yourself in the firing line, you are open to attack," he said.

He did not help himself when lurid details of his sex life, including fabricated claims of affairs with senior Tory MPs, were splashed across the tabloid newspapers when he came out in a series of interviews in 1990.

He was sacked from his last British team, Edinburgh-based Hearts, and moved to Ellicot City to coach Maryland Mania Club, a new professional team set to start playing the second-division A-league next year.

It was a long way down for the striker who was the first black player to be transferred for a pounds 1m fee.

In a final humiliation he lost touch with his brother - the result of an alleged attempt by John to dissuade him from revealing his homosexuality with a large cash payment.

What little stability there was in his life came from the couple who fostered John and Justin, aged five and six. They were taken in by Alf and Betty Jackson after their parent's marriage broke up. But despite their respectable upbringing, his brother has had his fair share of controversy. Last year he was acquitted of conspiracy to fix Premier League matches after a 45-day trial.

John, former co-presenter of Gladiators, was accused of being the middle- man between a gambling syndicate in Indonesia and two English-based goalkeepers, his team-mate Hans Segers and Bruce Grobbelaar, once of Liverpool. Since the trial he has kept out of the public eye and devoted himself to his business activities.

Justin had also kept a low profile until last week when, it can only be assumed, the shame of the charges against him caused him to take his own life.

Obituary, page 16

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'