An Australian coroner has ruled that INXS singer Michael Hutchence committed suicide while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, despondent over partner Paula Yates' on-going custody dispute with ex-husband Bob Geldof. The ruling officially ends the investigation into the 38-year-old singer's death by hanging in a Sydney, Australia hotel room last November. There will be no inquest.
In ruling Hutchence's death a suicide, N.S.W. State Coroner D.W. Hand dispelled speculation that "sexual misadventure" was a factor, and wrote in his report, "It has been suggested that the death resulted from an act of auto eroticism. However, there is no forensic or other evidence to substantiate this suggestion."
The coroner found Hutchence to be under the influence of alcohol, cocaine, Prozac and other unspecified prescription drugs. The report noted that Hutchence had first been prescribed the anti-depressant Prozac in 1995 for what was described as a "pre-existing depressive problem"
but with no hint of suicidal thoughts.
The report also details the time leading to the singer's death, and points to the following factors in determining Hutchence's frame of mind at the time of his death:
- Hutchence had dinner with his father the night before his death, drank wine and expressed his concern over the custody issues. His girlfriend, Paula Yates, had been expected to join him in Australia with their 16-month old daughter and Yates' other three daughters from her marriage to rock star Bob Geldof, but Geldof was protesting the visit. A custody hearing over the issue had been scheduled that day in London.
- Hutchence later joined actress Kym Wilson and another man, first in the hotel bar and then in the singer's room, and he consumed vodka, beer and champagne and cocktails with the pair until about 5 a.m. on November 22. The report states that Hutchence tried to convince the couple to stay to offer support if the result of his custody hearing was unfavorable.
- Yates called Hutchence around 5:30 and told him the custody hearing had been adjourned until December 17, effectively canceling her travel plans. Geldof received two calls from Hutchence the morning of his death including a lengthy one just after his call from Yates. Geldof called Hutchence "hectoring and abusive and threatening' in nature," the coroner said, and that Hutchence begged him to allow the children to come to Australia. The person who occupied the hotel room next to Hutchence's told authorities that she hear a loud male voice hurling expletives at approximately 5 a.m. The coroner believes this was Hutchence's conversation with Geldof.
- Hutchence left a message for INXS manager Martha Troup, that said, "Martha, Michael here. I f***ing had enough." He later left another message for the manager which in which his voice sounded "slow and deep" according to the report.
- Hutchence called an ex-girlfriend, Michelle Bennett, and left two messages for her, one in
which he sounded "drunk" and another in which he sounded "very upset." Previous media reports said the message said, in effect "It's Michael, I want to see you. I need to see you," and had him incorrectly identifying the time to Bennett as 7 a.m., when it was in fact closer to 9 a.m. Ms. Bennett was then so concerned about Hutchence that she went to visit the singer's hotel room, but found no answer when she knocked on his door. Hutchence was already dead.
His father, Kelland Hutchence, refused to comment on the coroner's statement, but earlier in the week he told London's "Daily Telegraph" he had hoped for an open verdict. In the wake of all the speculation and rumors including sexual misadventure, he told the paper he believed that "God is the only one who knows what happened." Mr. Hutchence also told the paper that he had been in regular contact with Yates and that Yates had been very ill following his son's death but was now better. He added that Yates was planning
on coming to Australia next month with his granddaughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, now 18-months-old. Mr. Hutchence also confirmed that due to family disagreements, his sons ashes had been split three ways between himself, Yates, and Hutchence's mother, who is divorced from Kelland.
As previously reported by MTV News, Michael Hutchence left the bulk of his estate to charities including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and the remainder to his daughter.