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Wednesday, September 9, 1998 Published at 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK


Suicide verdict on footballer Fashanu

Justin Fashanu: Talked about a career in broadcasting

Footballer Justin Fashanu, who was found hanging from the rafters of an east London garage, killed himself, an inquest has ruled.

The BBC's Naresh Puri reports
Among the pressures he had been facing was a court charge in America of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

In a suicide note, he denied the allegation, but predicted that he would be treated unfairly because he was homosexual.

Recording a verdict of suicide, the Poplar coroner, Dr Stephen Ming Chan, said former Norwich City, Nottingham Forest and England under 21 striker died from hanging, but had also tried to cut his wrists.

Dr Chan said: "All in all, it was a very tragic end for a man who had made a success of his life."

Fashanu, of Swiss Cottage, north London, was last seen alive leaving a health club, Chariots, in Shoreditch on Friday 1 May.

Stack of tyres

He then entered a garage across the road, beneath railway arches. He was found there the following day, hanging from the rafters by an electric flex next to a stack of car tyres.

The inquest heard of allegations that Fashanu was wanted by police in the US for sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

Detective Constable Andrew Ormison, who is based in Shoreditch, said no charges were outstanding.

But after the hearing, a spokesman for Howard County police, in Maryland, said Fashanu was wanted for assault and sexual assault, although at the time they did not know he was back in the UK.

As Fashanu's family - including his television presenter brother John - sat listening in court, the coroner read out the handwritten suicide note found in his Filofax.

[ image: Fashanu in his England strip]
Fashanu in his England strip
In it, Fashanu referred to the incident involving the teenager. He wrote: "Being gay and a personality is so hard, but everybody has it hard at the moment, so I can't complain about that.

"I want to say I didn't sexually assault the young boy. He willingly had sex with me and then the next day asked for money.

"When I said no, he said 'you wait and see.'

"If that is the case, I hear you say, why did I run? Well, justice isn't always fair. I felt I wouldn't get a fair trial because of my homosexuality."

Friends said that only hours before his death, he had been talking optimistically about a new career.

His flatmate, Kaveh Abani, said: "He was friendly and very confident. He was happy and was starting a new career in broadcasting.

"He was talking about a pilot programme he wanted to do. He was talking about that and that he hoped it would be a success."

Looking forward

Fashanu's former girlfriend Marie Acuna - who had a daughter by him - also denied that he had been depressed.

She said: "He was very happy. He was just looking forward to staying in England."

The coroner said Fashanu had appeared to triumph over prejudice about his colour and his homosexuality. But in the end the pressures, coupled with the alleged incident, had overwhelmed him.

He said: "Clearly he did not wish to cause more pain or more distress to his family or loved ones.

"Sadly he decided that death was the only way out for him."

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