Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 13:47 UK

Presenter Speight hanged himself

Mark Speight
Mark Speight presented BBC children's art show SMart since 1995

Televison presenter Mark Speight's death was suicide by hanging, a coroner has ruled.

The 42-year-old was found in a remote area of Paddington railway station, in central London, last month.

Westminster Coroner Paul Knapman also heard that a suicide note was found in his pocket.

Mr Speight, who grew up in Wolverhampton, was said to have been "devastated" by the death of fiancee Natasha Collins earlier this year.

She died at the couple's flat in St John's Wood, north London, after taking cocaine, sleeping tablets and alcohol in January.

'Appeared vacant'

Mr Speight, who presented BBC art show SMart since 1995, was last seen alive on 7 April.

Oliver Speight's tribute to his son Mark

The inquest heard that on that day he had attempted to visit a counsellor but a mix-up over dates meant she was not at home.

Two police officers also spoke to him as he wandered around north-west London. They offered to help Mr Speight as he appeared "vacant" and deep in thought, but he told them he was okay.

He was missing for six days before his body was found on 13 April.

CCTV footage showed Mr Speight entering Paddington's Hilton hotel on 7 April.

Clearly he was so devastated by the loss of Natasha Collins that at this time he could not contemplate life without her
Coroner Paul Knapman

Det Insp Will Jordan said it was possible that Mr Speight used a fire exit on the sixth floor to access the roof area where he was found dead.

Pathologist Dr Peter Wilkins said a post-mortem examination found no drugs or alcohol in Mr Speight's blood.

He said it was "entirely possible" that the TV presenter had lain undiscovered for six days after hanging himself.

Dr Knapman said Mr Speight could not face returning to the flat he had shared with Ms Collins.

And further evidence he wished to take his own life had been found in his journal.

Dr Knapman said: "What a tragedy. Clearly he was so devastated by the loss of Natasha Collins that at this time he could not contemplate life without her."

Art foundation

After the inquest, Mr Speight's father Oliver said: "From the family's perspective I want you to realise how proud we are of Mark - his dignity and his honour are in place."

He announced that a foundation would be set up in his son's name to nurture artistic talent among young people.

"The real people that we feel for are the children out there, the grief of thousands and thousands of children," Oliver Speight said.

"In the eyes of children's TV he was an icon and we are extremely proud of that and we will not let him down."

He added: "Look to the future, not the past and let us remember this is not the end of Mark Speight it is the end of his beginning."


SEE ALSO
Obituary: Mark Speight
14 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Funeral for hanged TV presenter
28 Apr 08 |  West Midlands
TV host Mark Speight 'found dead'
13 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Actress died after taking drugs
02 Apr 08 |  London

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