Family say they are worried sick about missing TV presenter

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The Independent Online

Friends and family of Mark Speight are said to be "worried sick" as police continue to search for the missing TV presenter.

The 42-year-old, whose fiancée Natasha Collins was found dead in their flat after a drink and cocaine binge, vanished on Monday just days after her inquest.

Yesterday, police said they had spoken to Mr Speight since he was last at Wood Green station, north London, on Monday morning. Shortly after 1.15pm that day, two police officers saw him in Chamberlayne Road, Kilburn, not far from St John's Wood where he and Ms Collins, 31, had lived. As he was in a "distracted" state they offered to find him a doctor to speak to or call an ambulance. He refused and walked away. He was reported missing early yesterday, half a day later. Police describe him as "vulnerable".

In a statement read by a friend, Amanda Stocks, his family pleaded with him to get in touch. "Because of his fragile state of mind, both Mark's family and Natasha's family, as well as all his friends, are deeply worried... We would urge Mark, if he hears this appeal, to get in touch," they said.

Mr Speight's world fell apart on 3 January when he discovered his fiancée dead in the bath at their home in St John's Wood with hot-water scalds covering 60 per cent of her body.

The couple, an inquest heard, had been "partying" at home on their own and had taken cocaine and sleeping pills as well as drinking wine and vodka. Mr Speight headed to bed at 4am and woke nine hours later to find Ms Collins' body in the bath with the hot tap still running.

Police and paramedics who responded to his call found the distraught TV presenter sobbing beside her lifeless body as he begged them to help her. He was initially arrested on suspicion of murder and supplying Class A drugs but, last month, Scotland Yard said he would not face any charges.

Best known as a presenter of the BBC children's art show SMart, Mr Speight resigned in February saying the loss left him unable to continue. His career in tatters, he turned up at the home of Ms Collins' mother, Carmen, a "broken man".

Realising he could not face going back to the flat the couple had shared, she allowed him to move in and spoke of how lost he was without her daughter, with whom he had been discussing wedding plans only hours before her death. At night, she said, she could hear him crying. "She was his soul mate and now life has died for him," Mrs Collins said.

Last week, the Westminster coroner, Dr Paul Knapman, recorded a verdict of death by misadventure after noting that Ms Collins had a "very significant" amount of cocaine in her body. Her death was caused by "cocaine toxicity and immersion in hot water".

On Monday, Mr Speight was due to meet Mrs Collins, 57, in Covent Garden at 3.30pm but never turned up. Friends of his mother, Jackie, 68, said yesterday that he had called her, as well as Mrs Collins, that day and he had sounded upbeat.

"Carmen waited and waited but he did not show up," a family friend said. "She and Jackie are both worried sick."

His stepmother, Francoise Coade, added that she and his father, Oliver, were extremely worried because Mr Speight was in "a delicate state" after his life was "turned upside down". She added: "Mark is an extremely sensitive person. He was devastated, naturally, by what happened. But he has no reason to feel guilty; he's not responsible."

Mr Speight became a familiar face after he got the job as the rubber-faced presenter of the Children's ITV Saturday morning show Scratchy & Co. He later worked with Ms Collins when they presented the BBC children's show See It Saw It."

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