Louella Michie trial: Ceon Broughton jailed for eight and a half years as Holby City actor describes his 'gut-wrenching pain' at daughter's death

'I wake up every morning to face life starting again without Louella.  Our family now broken.  Our beautiful Louella should still be with us on any measure of humanity.'

Adam Lusher
Friday 01 March 2019 11:15
Louella Fletcher-Michie at Bestival 2017 with Ceon Broughton before she took the drugs that led to her death

The boyfriend of Louella Fletcher-Michie has been jailed for eight years and six months after he filmed the daughter of Holby City actor John Michie dying from the effects of the drugs he gave her.

Ceon Broughton, 30, of Enfield, north London, has been called “evil” to his face by John Michie. He was found guilty of manslaughter and supplying a Class A drug after a three-week trial.

In a case described by the Crown Prosecution Service as “every parent’s worst nightmare”, Winchester Crown Court heard how at Bestival 2017 Broughton gave Louella – an occasional and cautious drug user - a “bumped up” dose of 2C-P.

Then, instead of getting help, he watched and filmed her as she endured a “gradual demise” over six hours. A medical expert said Louella was “in all probability” dead in the last images recorded by Broughton.

During the sentencing hearing on Friday, John Michie stood in the witness box, his voice choking with emotion as he described "the gut-wrenching pain of those who have lost a child".

“I wake up every morning to face life starting again without Louella,” he said. “Our daughter, our sister, our friend, our family now broken.

“For what? It makes no sense. Our beautiful Louella should still be with us on any measure of humanity."

He added: “I go to bed every night with the image of Louella crying out to her mum and dad and brother and sister to help.

"But there was only one person who could have helped her."

Louella’s sister Daisy sobbed as she spoke of her pain and bewilderment at Broughton’s failure to take her sister to the festival’s medical tent.

"Our lives have been torn apart by someone who was supposed to have loved Louella,” she said through tears. “Why didn't he get help? What was he doing at that time?”

In her victim impact statement, Louella’s mother Carol Fletcher-Michie spoke of having her “heart and soul ripped out and trampled on”.

And she paid tribute to her daughter.

Holby City actor John Michie pays tribute to late daughter Louella with mural

“She loved life and she loved people,” Carol told the court.

After the tragedy, she revealed, one of Louella’s friends had written to her saying: “Meeting Louella was like being sprinkled with instant family dust."

During the trial, the film Broughton took was shown to the jury, and Carol told the court of speaking to Broughton over the phone and hearing her daughter in the background “screaming like a wild animal”. Louella’s parents were so alarmed they jumped in a car and rushed from London to Dorset. Louella’s older brother Sam sent messages begging Broughton to get his sister to the festival’s medical tent.

But Broughton, the prosecution said, was more worried about avoiding further trouble with the police that would activate his suspended sentence for knife possession, than he was about Louella.

When a friend told him to call an ambulance, he replied: “I can’t get bagged [arrested]”.

Louella was found dead at 1am in an off-limits area of the Bestival site on 11 September 2017, on what should have been her 25th birthday.

Ceon Broughton   

The medical tent had been just 400 metres away.

The court heard that help was even closer at hand because Broughton and Louella were just 30 metres outside the official festival site perimeter.

Police release drone footage showing site of Louella Fletcher-Michie's death

As he sentenced Broughton, the judge, Mr Justice Goose told him: "It was beyond obvious she was suffering and had a dangerously adverse reaction.

"What did you do?

"You didn't go to the festival site while it was daylight. Nor did you do the obvious and pick her up and take her to help.

"The distance from the festival site was only 30 metres.”

The judge said Broughton’s messages to his friend Ezra Campbell about saying someone else had supplied the drugs and wanting to avoid arrest showed "you were only concerned for yourself".

If Broughton had acted properly, the judge added: "Her life would have been saved."

Outside court, Neil Devoto, who led the Dorset Police investigation, summed up Broughton’s actions by saying: "Even when she lay motionless, struggling for breath and dying, he continued to take photos and videos and message friends.

“All he needed to do was walk a few hundred metres to an on-site hospital. His actions were selfish and shameful."

While giving evidence during the trial itself, Mr Michie had stared hard at Broughton and said: “I don't know how you could ever say you loved someone if you left them to die in front of you.”

And during a break in proceedings later on in the trial Mr Michie called Broughton “evil”.

The explosive exchange of 21 February was witnessed by a BBC reporter who saw the Louella’s family passing near the defendant as they walked towards an exit and heard Mr Michie say “evil, evil”, and “not even sorry” in Broughton's direction.

Broughton was seen to react by grabbing a small wooden table and hurling it against a wall, smashing it to pieces. He then damaged a water cooler before being restrained by members of his defence team and some of the police officers who investigated Louella’s death. Giving her victim impact statement, Mr Michie’s wife Carol clarified that: “We don't think Ceon is evil. He is stupid, massively selfish and he lied."

The family have also indicated that Broughton will have to live the rest of his life with the guilt of what he did.

After the unanimous jury verdicts were delivered on Thursday Mr Michie said: “Regardless of the outcome of this harrowing trial, there were never going to be any winners.

“We began our life sentence on what would have been Louella’s 25th birthday. Ceon’s life sentence is knowing he didn’t help Louella to live.”

During the sentencing hearing, Stephen Kamlish QC read out a brief statement from Broughton: “Sorry I didn't do more to save Louella.  Sorry for the suffering I caused to everyone who loved Louella and I want to make things right."

As he sentenced him, the judge told Broughton: "I accept you have some remorse.” 

He gave Broughton a 13-month sentence for the offence he pleaded guilty to ahead of trial: supplying 2C-P to Louella and another person at Glastonbury in June 2017.  In addition he gave Broughton an 18-month sentence for supplying Louella with the 2C-P that killed her at Bestival.

This 18-month sentence was to run concurrently with the seven-year sentence the judge handed down for manslaughter.

The judge also activated five months of the 24-week suspended prison sentence for knife possession. This added up to a total of eight years and six months jail time.

Broughton had denied the charges, but declined to enter the witness box to give evidence in his defence. During the trial Mr Kamlish had argued that Broughton thought his girlfriend was just having a bad trip and didn’t realise Louella was dying.

The fact Broughton filmed his girlfriend, Mr Kamlish argued, showed that “he didn't realise the seriousness, however stupid that may be.”

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When interviewed by police, Broughton had said: “I didn’t think it would be such a life and death situation, I didn’t think it would be serious like this.”

When the guilty verdicts were delivered, Broughton appeared emotionless, but moments later he called over a member of his legal team and asked him to “text my mum”.

The Independent understands that Broughton’s defence team plan to appeal against his conviction.

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