Louella Michie trial: Jury considering verdict on man who filmed girlfriend dying of drug overdose at Bestival

Ceon Broughton is accused of manslaughter and supplying a Class A drug

Adam Lusher
Wednesday 27 February 2019 13:19
Holby City actor John Michie pays tribute to late daughter Louella with mural

The jury in the trial of Ceon Broughton, the man who filmed his girlfriend Louella Fletcher-Michie as she was dying from a drugs overdose at Bestival, has retired to consider its verdict on whether or not he is guilty of manslaughter.

Broughton, 29, is also accused of supplying the daughter of Holby City actor John Michie with the Class A drugs that led to her dying from the world’s first 2C-P overdose on the night before her 25th birthday in September 2017.

Broughton denies the charges. Before they retired, the judge, The Honourable Mr Justice Goose, asked the jurors to reach a unanimous decision.

Winchester Crown Court has heard Louella was just 400 metres from the festival’s medical tent, but instead of taking effective action to help, Broughton filmed her enduring a “gradual demise” over several hours, during which she “screamed like a wild animal” before collapsing.

When he entered the witness box, John Michie stared 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.”

A medical expert said Louella would have had a 90 per cent chance of survival had she received early medical help. Instead, the court heard, Louella was “in all probability dead” in the last video that Broughton took.

The court heard Broughton had also been worried about getting in trouble with the police because he already had a suspended prison sentence hanging over his head due to a previous offence.

When a friend told him to call an ambulance, the jury was told, Broughton messaged back: “I can’t get bagged [arrested].”

Prosecutor William Mousley QC told the jury Louella had been the victim of a "fatal attraction" to her boyfriend.

"Her attraction to Ceon Broughton,” said Mr Mousley, “Her feelings towards Ceon Broughton, turned out to be a fatal attraction."

Broughton, the prosecutor added, had "lied and lied" in order to "dodge responsibility" for Louella’s death.

Referring to the suspended jail sentence, Mr Mousley said the real reason he “let Louella down so badly, was to save himself and perhaps even to collect souvenirs of the fatal evening on his phone”.

“That,” said Mr Mousley, “Is shocking and despicable negligence of the highest order."

Broughton declined to enter the witness box to give evidence in his defence, but in his closing speech to the jurors Broughton’s lawyer Stephen Kamlish QC said the 29-year-old acted in the way he did because he thought his girlfriend was just having a bad trip, not dying.

The act of filming his girlfriend, Mr Kamlish said, actually showed Broughton’s innocence:

“Any decent person, as Ceon is, once you realise someone is at risk of dying, you are going to stop filming and do something else quickly."

“The act of the filming assists you in seeing he didn't realise the seriousness, however stupid that may be.”

When interviewed by police, the court heard, Broughton had told officers: “I didn’t think it would be such a life and death situation, I didn’t think it would be serious like this. I would never want anyone to lose life.”

Mr Kamlish insisted Broughton had attempted to get help to Louella, trying to tell his friend Ezra Campbell, via a mobile with poor signal, where he was, so that the festival’s medics could be sent there.

"He sent his google pin [to his friend],” said Mr Kamlish. “He didn't want to leave her alone in the forest. Just think about that: he didn't think she was going to die.

"You wouldn't leave your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, child, alone in the forest at night on drugs. You don't leave them alone in the forest at night until you think there is a risk of dying and the bad trip becomes secondary.”

Mr Kamlish added: "You will ask why he filmed and filmed to the end. None of us condone this [but] people who live certain lives spend their lives filming everything they do for the Instagram and the Snapchat.”

The court heard that on the night, Broughton told Louella’s brother Sam he had “bumped up” the dose of drugs he gave Louella.

Mr Mousley said this resulted in Broughton giving an "excessive dose" to someone who "had a very careful attitude" towards drugs.

"Any reasonable person,” said Mr Mousley, “Being prudent and careful having given Louella drugs, would have appreciated the risk in seeing her reaction and deterioration and that her life was in danger.

"And by taking reasonable steps, quite simply her life could have been saved."

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The defence, however, has argued that Broughton did not admit to “bumping up” Louella’s dose, and Sam misheard what was said due to a failing mobile phone signal.

In police interviews, Broughton denied supplying Louella with drugs on the night, saying he thought she had scored some from a fellow festival goer.

“This case is not about morals,” Mr Kamlish told the jury. “It is about criminal responsibility decided on the very stringent basis that you must go through.

“This is not case about vengeance, although there is a temptation to think someone needs to pay.

“It is not about giving the family something to ease their pain. Nothing can or will do that.”

The jury will now consider its verdict.