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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?