'Love Island' star Sophie Gradon's heartbroken boyfriend took his own life almost three weeks after discovering her body hanging at her parents' home, an inquest has heard.
Twenty five-year-old Aaron Armstrong was "screaming and hysterical" during a call with his mother Donna on June 20 last year, just moments after he and his brother Ryan found Gradon's lifeless body, Daily Mail reports.
The reality TV star's demise shattered the Armstrong family, especially after Aaron was looking forward to attending a forthcoming race meeting with his girlfriend. In the hours leading up to her death, Gradon had clicked a photo of herself in a new dress she planned to wear at the races and sent it to Donna Armstrong, the inquest heard.
On July 10, just three weeks after the tragedy, Armstrong was found hanging in his room by his mother at the family's sprawling mansion in Blyth, Northumberland. The loving boyfriend, who worked as a boat captain in his family's sea freight business, had posted online a reference to seeing Sophie again eight days before his suicide.
"I will never stop loving u and my heart will be yours until the day I join you I will see u very soon my angel so keep are [sic] bed warm for me," he wrote.
Aaron ended his life after taking alcohol and cocaine, which may have clouded his judgment, per a verdict recorded by Eric Armstrong, senior Coroner for South Northumberland.
In a statement to the inquest, Donna said her sons visited Gradon's home after becoming worried she had not called them nor was she active on social media. Armstrong took his brother along fearing what he would find, the statement claimed.
Just half an hour later, a tearful Ryan rang his mother to tell her they had found Gradon hanging in her apartment. According to Donna, she could hear Aaron screaming in the background.
"I received a call from Aaron, he said he was worried, he'd had no contact from Sophie and she had not been on her social media profile," the devastated mother said in the statement.
"He sounded worried and was talking quickly and was snappy. He rang Ryan to take him to Sophie's because he was worried about what he might find. Ryan said he was in the process of doing that. Half an hour later I got a call from Ryan. He was crying and said Sophie seemed to have hung herself. I could hear Aaron screaming in the background asking if the ambulance was coming. He sounded hysterical."
Armstrong had reportedly drank alcohol and consumed enough cocaine to put him in the range of someone who could be arrested for impaired driving if they were caught behind the wheel, the coroner said, citing a toxicology report. He added that those substances "increased the likelihood of violent thoughts and actions."
While the coroner clarified this was not a suicide verdict, he noted in a narrative conclusion that Armstrong "having consumed alcohol and cocaine, took his own life by hanging."
He then proceeded to warn the public about mixing alcohol and cocaine.
"Despite the belief that seems to be fairly prevalent in the general public, this is not without risk," he said. "I have recently seen an increase in the number of deaths linked to the use of alcohol and cocaine. I cannot believe any one of them thought it was going to result in their death. Sadly it can and does happen. I think Aaron is one of them to whom this happened. His thinking was muddled by the distress of Sophie's death, the distress at having found her, with his brother. The consequence of taking alcohol and cocaine together prevented him from thinking rationally about his actions."