Jeremy Kyle ‘may have caused or contributed’ to death of TV guest, says coroner
Written by on 20 November 2020
Jeremy Kyle is an “interested person” in the inquest of a guest on his show who was found dead shortly after attending a filming, the court has heard.
The preliminary hearing is being held into the death of 63-year-old Stephen Dymond, who died of a morphine overdose and a heart problem seven days after appearing on The Jeremy Kyle Show last year.
Hampshire Coroner Jason Pegg stated that the TV presenter is someone “who may have caused or contributed to the death of Stephen Dymond”.
He added that it would be “ludicrous” for Kyle not to give “his own take” on that claim at a future inquest.
The court also heard that “something may have happened on stage” after Kyle’s closing remarks at the end of the chat show “to attract the audience’s attention”.
The inquest in Winchester was read extracts from a witness statement from Mr Dymond’s brother, Leslie, who described him calling him from a taxi following filming.
He said he was “extremely distressed” as the audience had “booed and heckled him”, that Kyle was “in his face”, and that he was followed from the stage.
He said Mr Dymond told him he felt “trapped” and couldn’t get out and ended up “on his hands and knees”.
He said he had attempted to “talk him down from suicidal thoughts”, but that his brother was “fixated” on the results of a lie detector test he had taken during the show and mentioned it many times.
He said he had spoken to him “for hours” over the course of several days, until he “went off the radar” and his body was later found.
Mr Dymond had gone on the ITV morning talk show to take part in a lie detector test to prove he had not been cheating on his fiancee, Jane Callaghan, from whom he had recently split.
He later said he was worried about the repercussions and subsequent rumours after recording the show.
Representing the family of Mr Dymond, Ms Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC read an extract from Kyle’s witness statement, in which the presenter says: “I didn’t behave in a goading manner at all.” She says strongly disagrees with this.
Kyle’s statement also says: “I have no recollection of being told of any significant issues [with Mr Dymond]” before recording the show.
Ms Gallagher says that is untrue, and that Kyle had previously referred to Mr Dymond stopping taking anti-depressants in order to appear on the show.
She reiterated that the lie detector test was central to the inquest and said it was not only Mr Dymond’s reaction to the results that was important, but also Kyle’s reaction and conduct at that time.
Ms Gallagher said Kyle has previously made statements to say that lie detector tests are “100% accurate”. However, she agreed the scope of the inquest was not to test the reliability of the tests themselves.
She also said Mr Dymond’s mental health and the fact he was fixated by suicidal thoughts was very relevant to the case.
Ms Gallagher added that the continued description of Mr Dymond’s involvement on the show as being “an upsetting experience” by Mr Simon Antrobus, the QC representing ITV, are “dismissive”.
Talking about Mr Dymond’s direct experience with Jeremy Kyle during the filming, Mr Pegg said witness statements showed that: “It is that upset which played into the following week and played a part in his death.”
He said that would inform the choice of witnesses called to attend the full inquest.
An additional point was raised by Ms Gallagher, who put to the court that “something may have happened on stage at the end of the show to attract the audience’s attention”.
She said footage supplied by ITV appears to show something occurring after Kyle’s closing remarks, and so said it needed to be established whether or not Mr Dymond or anyone else was brought back to the stage.
Ms Gallagher said the family had been left “upset” after some footage was withheld from them by ITV for no clear reason, and questioned whether the coroner had now been supplied with the full footage.
She also referred to an earlier description of the Jeremy Kyle show “as human bear baiting”, made by a judge in a previous court case involving the show.
The court also heard that on first visiting his GP in March early 2019, Mr Dymond was initially deemed “unsuitable” by his doctor to appear on the show.
However, at a later appointment on 29 April his GP gave him a letter telling him he could participate.
At an earlier pre-inquest, coroner Mr Pegg described Mr Dymond’s heart condition, which was partly responsible for his death, as left ventricular hypertrophy, which is when the left chamber of the heart is not pumping properly.
The pre-inquest had been scheduled to take place earlier this summer – following several earlier delays due to coronavirus – however, the coroner was forced to abandon July’s virtual hearing midway through due to technical difficulties.
The Jeremy Kyle Show started in 2005 and had run for 17 series. It was cancelled on 10 May 2019, the day after Mr Dymond’s death.
Kyle said at the time that he was “utterly devastated”.
ITV stood by presenter Kyle, with the broadcaster’s director of television Kevin Lygo confirming it was piloting a new show with him later that year, although not in the same 9.30am timeslot.
The Jeremy Kyle show was the channel’s most popular daytime programme.
Mr Dymond’s death added to growing scrutiny of the duty of care that reality TV shows have to participants, coming just a month after the death of former Love Island contestant Mike Thalassitis.
Sophie Gradon, another Love Island contestant, took her own life in the summer of the previous year.
Media watchdog Ofcom has recently carried out a consultation into the welfare of participants on TV and radio shows and is planning to publish a statement later this year.
It’s hoped that changes to the Broadcasting Code will safeguard participants in reality shows, documentaries, talent contests and other forms of factual and entertainment programmes.
Coronor Mr Pegg indicated that the full inquest will cover the period of 14 March 2019, to the day of Mr Dymond’s death on 9 May 2019. It will not be held in front of a jury and is likely to take place in the late spring / summer of 2021.
Sky News has contacted Jeremy Kyle for comment.
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email email@example.com in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK