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Zoe Ball’s cameraman boyfriend tried to kill himself twice and spent time in the Priory in the months before he hanged himself aged 40, inquest hears
- Cameraman Billy Yates was found hanged in a flat in Putney, south west London
- Also tried to kill himself by ramming car into a barrier and inhaling toxic fumes
- He had concerns over a large tax bill but his relationship with Zoe was going well
- Star paid for a two-week stay in the Priory hospital and his seemingly improved
Zoe Ball tried in vain to help her boyfriend after two suicide attempts in the months before his death, an inquest heard.
Billy Yates, 40, rammed his car into a motorway barrier and tried to commit suicide by inhaling toxic fumes before his death last May, the hearing was told.
He had concerns over a large tax bill but his relationship with Zoe was going well when he was found dead at his London home, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard.
Zoe, 47, and Mr Yates had a ‘beautiful relationship’ and were the ‘love of each others’ life’ after meeting through their TV work, the inquest was told by his family.
Zoe Ball and Billy Yates (pictured) had a ‘beautiful relationship’ and were the ‘love of each others’ life’ after meeting through their TV work, the inquest was told by his family
But a coroner returned an open verdict into the death of the former Royal Marine, who had been drinking on the day he was found dead, as she couldn’t be satisfied that he had intended to take his own life.
After his first suicide attempt in November 2016, Zoe paid for a two-week stay in the Priory hospital where his mental health began to improve.
Mr Yates was prescribed a cocktail of anti-depressants by his GP and private therapists throughout his life, the inquest heard.
Zoe, the first female host of The Radio 1 Breakfast Show, had been dating Billy for several months before his sudden death.
A friend of 15 years discovered his body on May 4 last year at his apartment in Putney, south west London, after he hanged himself at home, the inquest heard.
A local shopkeeper was the last person to have seen Billy several hours before he died when he popped in to buy a soft drink, but said he appeared cheery.
A friend of 15 years discovered his body on May 4 last year at his apartment in Putney, south west London, after he hanged himself at home, the inquest heard
A local shopkeeper was the last person to have seen Billy several hours before he died when he popped in to buy a soft drink, but said he appeared cheery
Brad Abbotts, who discovered Mr Yates’ body, said: ‘I was friends with Billy for the last 15 years.
‘We kept in regular contact and I am aware that in the last five years Billy suffered depression and it got so bad that he tried to crash his car.
‘It was a cry that he needed help. He received treatment for his injuries and he was admitted to The Priory where he was for two weeks on a voluntary basis.
‘I received a text from a friend asking if I had heard from Billy. I went up the stairs and I knocked on the door and there was no answer.
‘Straight away I saw Billy lying on the floor.He was lying face down wear a pair of dark jeans, there was discolouration in his face and he was very cold.’
During a panic attack on November 25, Mr Yates smashed his car into a motorway barrier and was rushed to hospital where he told doctors he wanted to kill himself.
The cameraman had been sober since August 2016 and had attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting two days before his death where he had appeared happy.
Zoe, the first female host of The Radio 1 Breakfast Show, had been dating Billy for several months before his sudden death
On May 4, he began to drink again and was found to have 92mg per 100 milligrams of alcohol in his blood, putting him just over the drink-drive limit.
Priory consultant psychiatrist Dr Barbara Rooney said: ‘His girlfriend made enquiries and his girlfriend’s therapist whom I had worked with before contacted my secretary.
‘He had suffered depression for ten years, he felt very anxious at times which sometimes resulted in panic attacks.
‘He was not working because of his depression and anxiety and had had his driving licence taken away and needed his car to work.
‘He was feeling low, but looking forward to Christmas and had planned to go to Goa with his girlfriend at the beginning of January.
‘He had been seen by his GP and wished to be referred back to NHS psychologists as he did not want his treatment to be paid for by his girlfriend.’
A statement from Mr Yates’ family, read by Coroner’s Officer Julie Kidd, said: ‘William was known and loved by a great number of people and was a sweetheart to many.
Shortly after Billy’s death, Zoe took to Instagram and posted a poignant photograph of a flower with the caption, ‘My sweet love’
‘Working in TV, cast and crew knew that if Billy was on the job they would be having a good time.
‘That was where Billy met Zoe. They had a friendship and beautiful relationship, they were the love of each other’s life.
‘William lived his life in something of a whirlwind. William’s life, although too short, was filled with absolute individualism.
‘He suffered greatly from depression which plagued him on and off for years, but life became too much for him.’
Assistant Westminster Coroner Shirley Radcliffe said Mr Yates died of asphyxiation.
As he had been drinking in the moments before he died, she returned an open verdict as she could not be certain it was not a drunken, impulsive act.
- To contact the Samaritans, go to www.samaritans.org or call 116 123.
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