Sunday 26 January 2020

Five years on from model's death, Katy's family still wait for answers

NEXT month the family and friends of the late model Katy French will gather to mark the fifth anniversary of her tragic death.

But as the years pass by on her untimely death at the age of 24, the family's long wait for answers continues.

Despite being one of the most high-profile drugs fatalities in Ireland, no one has ever been charged directly with the model's death and it is unlikely that anyone ever will.

This week we learned that Katy's friends, former couple Kieron Ducie and Ann Corcoran, will not face charges directly related to the socialite's death.

Ducie and Corcoran pleaded guilty before Trim Circuit Court to procuring another man, Russell Memery, to possess cocaine for the purpose of sale or supply to another.

A second, more serious, charge – that they intentionally or recklessly engaged in conduct related to the supply of cocaine to Katy and failed to get medical assistance in a timely fashion – was dropped.


Memery himself pleaded guilty in March 2010 to conspiring to possess cocaine for the purpose of sale or supply and was given a suspended sentence of two-and-a-half years.

For Katy's family, the drawn-out legal case has undoubtedly been an ordeal. No inquest has yet been held into the model's death pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

The model collapsed after taking cocaine in Ducie and Corcoran's house in Kilmessan, Co Meath, slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. She passed away in the arms of her sister Jill at Our Lady's Hospital in Navan, Co Meath, four days later on December 6, 2007.

But while she may have had a child-like innocence, Katy knew the dangers of cocaine. She had dabbled in the drug for several years but was apparently trying to turn her life around. Tragically, her resolve faltered. In a prophetic interview shortly before her death she spoke of how "cocaine destroys lives".

"I first tried it when I was 19 and soon realised that it was very much part of the Dublin social scene," she said.

"I was doing some TV and starting to make my way in the modelling circuit and I guess I just got caught up in the whole scene. Cocaine is everywhere, but I just wanted to say that it's not cool, it's not attractive.

"I am speaking out because I feel we need to be more honest with ourselves, stop living in denial and take responsibility. When you are doing coke, the highs are great, but the lows are very, very low. Apart from the effect it had on my personality and the ways it affected my love life, it was taking all my money as well," she added.

Katy had been a regular fixture on the press call circuit for some time, however, it was in January 2007 when she made the leap from just another pretty blonde to the leader of the pack. A high-profile spat with her then fiance, restaurateur Marcus Sweeney, provided acres of coverage in the gossip pages.

Her star was in the ascendant and she made a host of television appearances including on 'The Late Late Show' and 'Tubridy Tonight' – but most memorably on RTE's 'Celebrities Go Wild'.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, models who worked with Katy said she is still very much missed.

"She was very bubbly and always full of bright ideas. She had a great perspective on life and the modelling industry in Ireland," recalled former Miss World Rosanna Davison.

"I like that she was always looking at new angles and ways to do things at press calls too. I remember her as an incredibly fun, vivacious person, who had a unique personality.

"You don't meet too many young women who are that confident in their opinions. For someone to be so self-assured at that age was quite something. She certainly hasn't been replaced," she added.

Model and friend Pippa O'Connor described Katy as the best of fun – but always professional.

"She was such a character and very outgoing and hard working. She was far from the model stereotype, she's most definitely missed."

Meanwhile, former model and actress Vivienne Connolly remembered Katy as a flamboyant character, but one who also had a vulnerable side.

"Doing a fashion show with her you knew you'd never be bored because she was so gregarious. She had a presence walking into a room and had something that others just didn't have.

"I always saw a vulnerability in her as well though. She liked the media and the fame thing a little too much as well," she added.

Tragically that vulnerability was laid bare, when she succumbed to the temptations of the drug she had earlier warned about.

Irish Independent

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