Teenage boy made at least 43 attempts to take his own life after being persuaded to do ‘sexual things’ with gay TV celebrity
- Ben Cowburn, 18, from Truro, Cornwall, was stylist to gay TV celebrity
- Star allegedly pressured Ben into sexual acts and crept into his bed for sex
- ‘Mr X’ also ‘persuaded him to strip naked in front of a group of men’
- Inquest heard how Ben made at least 43 attempts to take his own life
- Tragic teen found dead at mental health hospital in December 2010
- ‘Mr X’ has never been questioned or charged over allegations
A teenage boy made at least 43 attempts to take his own life after being persuaded to do ‘sexual things’ with a gay TV celebrity, an inquest heard today.
Ben Cowburn, 18, from Truro, Cornwall, was swept into a hedonistic lifestyle by the man – named only as ‘Mr X’ – after being appointed his stylist, a coroner was told.
But he felt pressured into sexual acts with the star which left him feeling ‘disgusted’, the inquest heard.
The teen, who met the star in a London pub, was allegedly persuaded to strip naked in front of a group of men, who then began to fondle him.
On a different occasion, the TV star allegedly crept into his bed for sex.
Mr X and Ben fell out, the inquest heard, and the teen made several apparent suicide attempts. He was then admitted to a mental health hospital.
There, Ben took a serious drug overdose and, four days later on December 15 2010, he was found dead.
The star has never been arrested or questioned over Ben’s allegations.
The inquest heard how Ben was found wandering in the middle lane of a road near to his home in Cornwall a month before his death.
Giving evidence today, Detective Constable Joanna Sodergren told Cornwall Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon Ben had told officers at the scene it was his 43rd attempt to take his own life.
Detective Constable Sodergren told the inquest: ‘He spoke about being hurt by a couple of men in London which had lasted five months until he left.
‘He said he let it happen to punish himself. He was disgusted and he wanted to push it out of his mind.
‘Ben said this was the 43rd attempt to end his life. He said he wasn’t able to end his life because “he wouldn’t let him”.
‘When asked who, Ben said he didn’t want to talk about it and it wasn’t fair as he was on TV and in magazines on every page, why did he have that after what he did to him.
‘He said the man had brought him nice things and took him to nice places but had done sexual things to him.
‘Asked if he had been raped or sexually assaulted he said he had not but agreed to them as he felt pressured to do the things.
‘He said if he killed himself it would make it better as it would make it go away.’
DC Sodergren said when Ben was being driven in the back of a police car after being found on the road on November 18 2010, officers overheard him rapping and mentioning the celebrity’s name.
She said: ‘They heard him rapping and said he mentioned the celebrity and sounded angry. While doing so they recall him using the phrase of being infiltrated by him.’
Following the incident, Ben was found dead in the bathroom of the Longreach unit, at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in the early hours of December 20.
Police seized several items from Ben’s room after his death, including four journals which contained notes about his fashion course, how he was feeling about himself and poems.
In one entry on October 22 Ben wrote that he had made 15 attempts to end his life in 48 hours.
After he was discovered local police officers alerted Scotland Yard to ‘suggestions that Benjamin may have been the victim of a serious sexual assault’.
The coroner asked DC Sodergren if she was satisfied with the way the Metropolitan Police dealt with the investigation into the death of the tragic teen.
She asked: ‘Are you satisfied Ben was not subjected to criminal, forced or persuaded sexual activity?’
DC Sodergren replied: ‘I cannot comment on the Met’s investigation. We contacted them because of Ben’s disclosure.
‘The Metropolitan Police completed an investigation and notified us that their investigation was complete.’
The court heard Ben had a history of drug abuse including, cannabis, amphetamine, MDMA and speed.
Det Con Sodergren said: ‘He said he had a history of drug abuse.
‘He regularly used cocaine while in London and was still very upset about what has happened in London but did not want to talk about it although that had happened in London, being sexually assaulted, was the straw that broke the camels back, there were years of problems with his family.’
The star’s identity has been protected under an informal agreement between Cornwall Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon and barristers representing Ben’s family and the NHS.
The inquest continues.
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