Florist stabbed to death after girlfriend leaves note blaming him for suicide, investigation finds

A popular florist was stabbed to death months after his girlfriend accused him of suicide, an investigation has found.

Alicia Callaghan, 43, was found hanged by her partner Tony Eastlake, 55, whose death is now under murder investigation after being attacked a few feet from her flower stall in north London .

Poplar Coroners Court heard that after Ms Callaghan died on April 1, 2021, her son’s girlfriend found a note in her belongings, which read: “I’m doing this because of Tony Eastlake.”

Tony Eastlake was stabbed to death just yards from his stall in north London over the May Bank Holiday weekend

Mr Eastlake was stabbed to death just yards from his stall in north London on Saturday May 29, two months after Ms Callaghan’s death.

The 55-year-old man, whose family described him as a “very special man” and “loved by everyone”, was attacked on Essex Road, Islington, around 5:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead on premises.

Mr Eastlake was known as “the Islington Flower Man” and had worked at the same stand on Essex Road since the age of 14.

Hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects during a vigil at her flower stand, Florence & Fleur, on May 31, where her daughter Paige Eastlake called the flower merchant “my twin” and “my best friend. “.

A statement made by Mr. Eastlake, which he made following the death of Ms. Callaghan, was read during his investigation.

The flower seller clarified that the couple had an argument on the evening of March 31, 2021, after receiving offensive texts from his ex-wife.

Mr Eastlake, who died on May 29 after being stabbed in the lower back, previously said Ms Callaghan told him she was going to bed just before midnight and had gone upstairs, but when he went up to join her, he found her hanged.

People at a vigil for Tony Eastlake at his stall at Essex Road station in London

People at a vigil for Tony Eastlake at his stall at Essex Road station in London

Referring to Ms Callaghan as his “girlfriend”, Mr Eastlake said his ex-partner’s messages “were abusive towards Alicia and messages were also sent back via text message”.

He added: “Alicia’s mood seemed to worsen over the next two hours. She had consumed alcohol but nothing abnormal.

“Around 11:45 pm, she went to the top floor of the premises, said good evening and went upstairs.

“About 15 minutes later, I went upstairs to talk to her, and as I walked out of the living room, I saw her hanging from the banister.”

He said he had taken her down the stairs, placed her on the living room floor, and called an ambulance and claimed to have performed CPR, although a police officer later said he had not seen Mr. Eastlake administer CPR.

Mr Eastlake’s statement added: “Alicia was still grappling with the passing of her father and mother suffering from dementia.

“I had been in a relationship with her since October 2020. The relationship, in general, was in order, but there had been outside influences affecting her.”

Tony Eastlake's daughter Paige Eastlake called her father 'my twin' and 'my best friend' during a vigil at his Florence & Fleur flower stand at Essex Road station two days after his death

Tony Eastlake’s daughter Paige Eastlake called her father ‘my twin’ and ‘my best friend’ during a vigil at his Florence & Fleur flower stand at Essex Road station two days after his death

Police Constable Michael Morrison, who attended at around 12:20 p.m. on April 1, 2021, said he was greeted at the gate of the property by Mr. Eastlake who then drove him to climb two flights of stairs “where a woman was lying on her back.” in the doorway ‘.

He told the court: “Mr. Eastlake had not started CPR. He sat down in the living room. He was visibly upset and crying.

“Mr. Eastlake said he last saw her 15 to 20 minutes before the London ambulance service called.

“I left the room to check out the rest of the property.

“While I was upstairs, I heard Mr. Eastlake shout, ‘No! No!’ I believe that was when Mrs. Callaghan’s death was verified.

Officers later declared the scene non-suspect at 2:34 a.m., according to the investigation.

Klaudia Le Xuan, the girlfriend of Ms. Callaghan’s only son, said in a statement that she had known Ms. Callaghan, 43, for “many years” and had gone to her home “with others” to start tidying up the house. following his death.

She said she chose to go through the papers because she knew Ms Callaghan was “keeping all her papers”, and added: “It was under the seat of the sofa that I found a note that read:” I ends it because of Tony Eastlake “.

Testifying in person in Poplar Coroner’s Court, she said: “It sounds very rushed to me, but parts of her handwriting are very similar to me.

“Of course I was going through all the paperwork, so everything looked the same. This was where all her papers were and she only disclosed this information to a few people.

Ms Callaghan’s cousin, Maria Czerska, disputed that it was her handwriting, according to the investigation.

However, Senior Coroner Mary Hassell said: “It seems likely to me that Ms. Callaghan wrote the note not only because of the handwriting which I like is disputed, but because of where it was found.

“I can’t tell, even though she wrote the note, when she wrote the note.

“I think it’s unlikely that she wrote it down that night and put it there and then continued doing what she did.

“I don’t think the note is relevant to what happened that particular night. I think if she wrote it, I don’t think she wrote it then.

Tributes at a vigil for Tony Eastlake at his stall in Essex Road Station in London hosted by the Islington Community Group

Tributes at a vigil for Tony Eastlake at his stall in Essex Road Station in London hosted by the Islington Community Group

A toxicologist analyzed Ms Callaghan’s blood, urine and stomach contents and detected alcohol levels at 217 mg per deciliter, which would have caused a high level of intoxication and the stomach was tested positive for cocaine compatible with recreational use, the court said.

The urine also showed cannabis use at the time of his death.

An autopsy revealed that there was no suspicious trace of a third party and that his injuries matched the self-inflicted hanging act.

Her GP and a clinical psychologist also told the court that Ms Callaghan was at chronic risk of self-harm, a history of overdose, had previously had an abusive relationship and was suffering from stress related to her mother’s deteriorating health.

Dr Neelesh Bowry said: “It was felt that Ms Callaghan suffered from an emotionally unstable disorder, suffered from complaints from neighbors, was stressed by her mother’s illness and that there was a continuing risk of self-harm. . “

Ms. Le Xuan shared her frustration when Mr. Eastlake told her boyfriend about the death.

She said: “I find it very bizarre with all the ambulance teams and police on the scene, he has not been contacted by anyone.

“No professional help was offered. No one had told him anything. It’s kind of weird that someone’s mother is dead and you can’t hear anything from the police.

The coroner said that although she could not speak for the police, she said: “I imagine it was because her then partner was at the scene and knew of the death.”

In her determination, she gave a medical cause of death such as suspension by ligature, but chose not to make a suicide decision because “intentions in this matter are unclear.”

Ms Hassell said: “Considering all the circumstances, I am convinced that she hanged herself.

“To determine suicide, the second element is that I have to find, on the balance of probabilities, that she intended to end her life.

“In general, hanging yourself is a very deliberate act. Generally speaking, most people intend to end their own life.

“I have a doubt here.

“It is entirely possible that in the midst of a very heated argument, Ms. Callaghan went upstairs and hanged herself with the intention of being found by Mr. Eastlake. Maybe that was part of the argument.

“I have enough doubts that prevent me from saying that she intended to end her life.

“I just don’t know what his intention was.

“She could easily have expected him to hear something and cut her off.”

“I decide that Alicia Callaghan hanged herself in the house late on the evening of March 31, 2021, early in the morning of April 1, 2021. Her intentions in this regard are unclear.

“I just want to say how sorry I am to all of you for your loss.”

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