TV presenter Jeremy Kyle “may have caused or contributed” to the death of guest Steve Dymond who is suspected to have taken his own life after failing a lie detector test on his show, a pre-inquest review has heard.
The preliminary hearing held into the death of the 63-year-old heard that he died of a morphine overdose and a heart problem at his home in Portsmouth, Hampshire, seven days after he filmed for the daytime show in May 2019.
He had undergone a lie detector test for the programme to show whether he had cheated on his ex-fiancee Jane Callaghan, from Gosport.
Coroner Jason Pegg said that he had made Mr Kyle an “interested person” for the inquest, stating that the presenter was someone “who may have caused or contributed to the death of Stephen Dymond”.
He said that he intended to call Mr Kyle as a witness and added: “It might seem ludicrous not to have Mr Kyle to give evidence to give his take on the situation.”
Counsel for Mr Dymond’s family, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, told the Winchester hearing that Mr Dymond became “distressed” after he failed the lie detector test.
She said that Mr Dymond had gone on the show to “prove his fidelity” and he had said: “I pushed and pushed but it all went wrong.”
Ms Gallagher said that after the result was announced during the show’s filming, the audience “booed and jeered” him and he was “called a failure by the presenter”.
She said that Mr Kyle was “in his face” and even when Mr Dymond was “at the point of collapsing, he was still being heckled”.
She said that Mr Dymond sought to leave through a side door but found it locked and added: “He couldn’t escape the heckling. He was on his hands and knees because he thought he was going to pass out from the stress.”
Ms Gallagher said that his state of mind was known by the crew of the show, with a message sent on a WhatsApp group stating: “Just so you know, he’s still crying, he has just said he wishes he was dead. Just giving you the heads up.”
Ms Gallagher added: “While he was still on the programme, within minutes, he was talking about wishing he was dead.”
She said that Mr Dymond called his brother as he was taken home by taxi from the show.
In a statement, Leslie Dymond says: “He seemed completely broken and frightened and told me he couldn’t go on living.”
The hearing was told that Mr Dymond was originally turned down to appear on the show but was accepted as a guest after gaining a letter from his doctor.
The coroner has heard Mr Dymond had been receiving mental health care from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
But Mr Pegg ruled that Southern Health had not “contributed” to the death of Mr Dymond and removed it as an interested person.
Ms Gallagher said that Mr Kyle had made a statement saying “I didn’t behave in a goading manner”, to which she responded: “We take issue with that.”
She added that Mr Dymond’s family had felt “belittled” by the response given by the ITV programme.
Ms Gallagher added: “The inquest must consider how he came to be on the show in the first place considering his pre-show assessment and it was known he had been on anti-depressant medication and had stopped it to go on the show.”
She said that Mr Kyle had been given briefing notes about Mr Dymond’s situation and had made reference during the show to him stopping his medication.
Mr Pegg said: “It’s relevant to investigate as part of the inquest, Mr Dymond’s assessment to be on the programme in the first place, his participation in the show and his response and the aftercare provided and offered to him.
“The inquest is going to include his participation in the programme and his engagement with Mr Kyle – that is going to have a bearing on the witnesses necessary for the inquest.”
He added that a jury would not be required for the full hearing which is set to be held in the summer of 2021.
Merry Varney, partner at Leigh Day solicitors – which represents the family of Mr Dymond, said in a statement: “We welcome the Coroner’s decision today confirming the scope of the inquest into Steve’s death.
“Having recognised in July that Jeremy Kyle himself ought to be an Interested Person, today’s confirmation that how Steve came to be on the Jeremy Kyle Show, how he was treated on it and the aftercare provided will all form part of the coroner’s inquest gives us real confidence Steve’s death will be fully and fearlessly investigated.”