Unable to bear his grief: Body of TV star found at Paddington rail station

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MARK Speight, the children's TV presenter who went missing a week ago, was found dead yesterday.

His mother said the news had come as "a great shock" and she was "absolutely devastating".

Jacqueline Speight, speaking hours after her son's body was found near London's Paddington Station, said the family was struggling to cope.

Oliver Speight, his father added: "Mark was a wonderful son and brother to his family and he will be very sadly missed.

"We need to come to terms with our grief at the loss of both Mark and Natasha and would ask that you would respectfully afford us the privacy to grieve privately during this tragic time."

Earlier, Mr Speight's lawyer had said he believed the troubled presenter had killed himself because he could not get over the death of his fiance.

Speaking outside her Wolverhampton home, Mrs Speight said: "This news is absolutely devastating and we need time to grieve. It's come as a huge shock and we are trying to take it all in as a family."

Nabeel Sheikh, who has represented Mr Speight since his fiance, Natasha Collins, was found dead in their London flat in January, said he believed the trauma of her death had driven the presenter to take his own life.

Mr Sheikh said: "He was a lovely guy, a complete one-off. He was a very, very sensitive character, and he was a very giving person."

He added: "I think it was all too much for him to deal with. I didn't think he was dealing with it very well and that's been borne out by what has happened.

"His fiance's family have been through hell and now his own family have to, too."

Mr Speight, 42, had been missing since last Monday. He was last seen boarding a southbound Bakerloo line train from Queen's Park station.

His body was found yesterday by railway staff and police in an area of Paddington station described as "remote" and "away from public view". It was reported last night that he had been found hanged.

Police are examining CCTV footage from the station for clues as to how he died.

Mr Speight, who fronted BBC children's show SMart before resigning last month, is said to have sunk into a deep depression over the death of Miss Collins, 31, after an evening of recreational drug-use at their flat.

The television actress died in a scalding bath after an overdose of cocaine. Mr Speight was arrested on suspicion of murder and supplying Class-A drugs, but the charges were later dropped.

Last week, a coroner recorded a verdict of death by misadventure for Miss Collins.

Her mother, Carmen Collins, with whom Mr Speight had recently been living, was said to have been left deeply distressed by news of his death.

Jan Kennedy, Mr Speight's agent, said news of his death had come as a shocking blow. "We are absolutely devastated at the tragic news of the loss of Mark and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family as well as the family of his beloved fiance, Natasha, whose equally tragic death had affected him so inconsolably," she said.

"He was loved and respected by his adoring family, friends and colleagues."

Lisa Ratcliff, a close friend of Mr Speight, said she was "deeply affected" by the tragedy, adding: "Mark was a wonderful man, a gifted artist with a warm and gentle personality, who touched the lives of so many people with his unique skills and talents."

Stu Goldsmith, 42, a former school friend who had known him for 30 years, said Mr Speight had been planning a tribute show for his girlfriend. He said: "I'm devastated. There were always two sides to Mark, the warm, funny guy which he showed on TV and the sensitive guy which only his close friends knew about.

"I know Mark blamed himself for Natasha's death and it affected him considerably.

"He was planning a tribute show and hoped the event in London would be a fitting way to celebrate her life."

Last week Mr Speight's family had said they were "deeply worried" about him. His fiance's mother recently spoke of how he turned up "broken" on her doorstep because he could not face going back to the flat he shared with Miss Collins in St John's Wood, north London, following her death.


DURING the inquest into his fiance's death, Mark Speight said the couple had been "partying" at home on their own and had taken cocaine and sleeping pills as well as drinking wine and vodka.

The couple had been celebrating the end of Speight's run in pantomime.

Collins, whom Speight had planned to marry later this year, was described as an occasional drug-user.

The court heard that she had scalds all over her body and face, including her tongue, when she was found.

Paul Knapman, the coroner, said the evidence pointed to her having collapsed into the bath, and it was likely she had some heart problem that caused her to lose consciousness. At the time of her death, Speight, who had taken a sleeping pill, was asleep in bed. He discovered the body nine hours later.

The cause of death was given as cocaine toxicity and immersion in hot water.

Speight, originally from Wolverhampton, was told last month that he would not face any charges over her death.

In February, he announced he was quitting SMart as his "tragic loss" had left him unable to continue.

He shot to fame as the rubber-faced presenter of Children's ITV Saturday morning programme Scratchy & Co.

Collins starred alongside him on the BBC children's show See It Saw It.

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