Sunday 28 December 2014

Colette Browne: Underneath the mask was a troubled young woman

Published 17/07/2013 | 17:00

SHE was the poster girl of the Celtic Tiger, with a champagne lifestyle and a stellar modelling career, but behind the glitz and the glamour was a secret life of drug abuse and, allegedly, violence.

Aged just 24, Katy French had the world at her feet. The country's top model, a tabloid pinup and a reality TV star. But her professional success belied her personal turmoil. Where did it all go wrong?

Witness statements relating to her tragic death in 2007 lay bare the sordid details that never made the gossip pages.

She was allegedly attacked in the past by a male friend, subject to bitter jealousies by others desperately trying to make a name for themselves in Ireland's cut-throat celeb scene and, all the while, was battling a deadly drug addiction.

"She had no limit when it came to coke, she never wanted to stop – always wanted more," said restaurateur and former fiance, Marcus Sweeney, who claimed the model had a cocaine problem from the time they began going out in 2005.

Her mother, Janet, said Katy's addiction problems went back further than that. She had admitted taking cocaine two-and-a-half years before her death, even seeing an addiction counsellor, but, tragically, remained enslaved to the drug.

Perhaps her tumultuous love life, riven by insecurity, made it impossible for her to quit. After her relationship with Sweeney, she was involved in an on-off relationship with businessman James Mansfield. Katy wanted more from Mansfield but he was slow to commit, wary of the limelight.

The glamorous life she led in front of the glare of the cameras was a sham. Underneath the mask of immaculate make up, expensive clothes and a jet-set lifestyle, was a troubled young woman who had gotten in too deep.

Katy French's story is a cautionary tale for those who still believe in fairy tales. Scratch the surface of carefully crafted public personas and the demons suddenly appear.

Like many young people in the country, Katy was sucked into the Celtic Tiger myth that the good times would go on forever. Unfortunately, her dalliances with the worst excesses of the period – the drink, the drugs and the misplaced feelings of invincibility – cost her her life.

Irish Independent

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