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Boyzone singer 'died of natural causes'

Doctors say undiagnosed heart condition is most likely reason for fluid on the lungs

The Boyzone star Stephen Gately died of natural causes, a post mortem examination concluded yesterday. The 33-year-old singer suffered a sudden attack of pulmonary oedema, an accumulation of fluid on the lungs.

Doctors in Spain said the most likely cause was an undiagnosed heart disorder which can cause death in young people, without warning.

There had been speculation that Gately may have died by choking on his own vomit after spending a night out with his partner, Andrew Cowles, on the island of Majorca.

But the court official who revealed details of the post mortem at a hearing yesterday said that the pulmonary oedema had not been caused by alcohol or drugs. She could not say whether the singer had taken either.

Gately was found dead in his apartment in the village of Port Andratx on Saturday afternoon.

He had visited a nightclub in Palma with Mr Cowles at about midnight on Friday and the pair had met Georgi Dochev, 25, from Bulgaria, who accompanied them back to Gately's apartment in the early hours and later discovered Gately's lifeless body. The court official said that the investigation into the death would continue as a formality with Mr Cowles and one other person, believed to be Mr Dochev, declared as official witnesses.

The results of toxicology tests on the body are due in the next few days. A sample of fluid taken during the post-mortem examination will also be sent to a forensic laboratory in Barcelona for further tests. "If all these steps [witness statements and tests] confirm the natural causes, the case will be closed," the official said.

The judge yesterday gave permission for Gately's body to be repatriated to his home country of Ireland.

The lawyer Gerald Kean, a spokesman for Gately's family, said that papers had been signed to allow the release of his body but that it might be two days before it was returned.

"The family's only wish is to get their son and brother home as soon as possible," Mr Kean said.

It is believed that Gately died after falling asleep on a sofa. He was found in his pyjamas slumped forward in a kneeling position. Police said that there were "no signs of suspicious circumstances".

His fellow Boyzone members flew out to Majorca on Sunday to offer support to Mr Cowles, but have since returned home.

A spokesman said: "They went there to pay their respects and start dealing with the fall-out of the situation. However, it's clear that their being there was bringing a lot more attention to the situation."