A man who was found dead shortly after taking part in an episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show died of a morphine overdose and a heart problem, a pre-inquest review has heard.
The body of 63-year-old Steve Dymond was discovered at his Portsmouth home on 9 May last year, a week after appearing on the axed show to take a lie detector test to prove he had not been cheating on his fiance Jane Callaghan, from Gosport, from whom he had recently split.
He had reportedly said he was worried about the repercussions of appearing on the programme and the subsequent rumours, with Detective Sergeant Marcus Mills, of Hampshire Police, telling a previous inquest hearing that his death was a suspected suicide.
Hampshire Coroner Jason Pegg told Friday’s hearing that the cause of Dymond’s death was a morphine overdose and left ventricular hypertrophy, which is when the left chamber of the heart is not pumping properly. He had previously heard that empty morphine packets had been found next to Dymond’s body.
But Mr Pegg was forced to abandon the hearing – carried out over video-link – because of technical difficulties, which meant that media and members of the public, including Ms Callaghan and Mr Dymond’s cousin, Gerald Brierley, were unable to hear the proceedings.
“It’s inappropriate to continue,” Mr Pegg said. “It is necessary for the pre-inquest review to be heard in public and, when people dialling in cannot hear proceedings in full, it’s not a public hearing.”
It had been expected that the hearing, which was attended by counsel for Dymond’s family, ITV, Southern Health and Dymond’s GP, would establish a date and scope for the full inquest but instead the case was adjourned for a further review hearing in late October.
Mr Pegg added: “I appreciate it’s caused distress to the family but, sadly, when we embarked on this pre-inquest review it was hoped it would be effective, but sadly it wasn’t.”
After 14 years on air, The Jeremy Kyle Show was axed a week after Dymond’s death amid growing scrutiny of the duty of care that reality TV shows have to participants following the death of Mr Dymond and former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.
During a previous hearing, a lawyer representing Dymond’s family told the coroner he had stopped taking anti-depressants in order to take the show’s polygraph test.
Barrister Caoilfhionn Gallagher also alleged that after filming, Dymond was “put in a homeward-bound taxi within two hours of telling a researcher that he was really upset and that ‘life was nothing without Jane’ and said ‘I wish I was dead’, or words to that effect”.
At the time of Dymond’s death, audience member Babette Lucas-Marriott described watching him “collapse to the ground” after being told he had failed the polygraph test, which she suggested “99 per cent of the audience” had raised their hands to indicate they expected him to pass.
“He just could not believe what he had heard,” Ms Lucas-Marriott, then a Manchester-based student, told the BBC. “He was begging his fiancee for forgiveness. They were both sobbing; they were just completely and utterly devastated and it was clear that he had just lost his entire life with his fiancee there.”
Ofcom is currently revising and expanding a proposed set of rules to protect the welfare of participants on TV and radio shows.
The media watchdog is carrying out a consultation over changes to the Broadcasting Code, with the intention of improving safeguarding for participants in reality shows, documentaries, talent contests and other programmes.
A 29-page report published on Friday 13 March proposes the expansion of Section 7 of the Code, about Fairness and Privacy, and the creation of a “risk matrix” to help broadcasters assess what level of care participants might need.
Additional reporting by PA
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