Former The Only Way Is Essex cast member Mick Norcross took his own life amid financial concerns and deteriorating mood through Covid-19 lockdowns, an inquest has heard.
The businessman, who rose to fame as the owner of the Sugar Hut nightclub in the ITV series, died at his home in the Essex village of Bulphan on January 21, aged 57.
Mr Norcross first appeared on Towie in 2011 during the show’s second series. His son Kirk, 33, was part of the original cast.
Inspector Neil Armstrong, of Essex Police, told an inquest in Chelmsford that officers were called by the ambulance service to Mr Norcross’s “sprawling estate” at around 4pm on January 21.
He had been found dead by his son Kirk Norcross, who smashed a window with a hammer to gain access to the property after he was unable to contact him, the hearing was told.
Mr Armstrong said Mr Norcross had been involved in three property developments that were over schedule.
He had taken out a £3.6 million bank loan, a bridging loan secured against his main residence and there was “at least another million needed to finish at least one of the developments”, Mr Armstrong said.
He said that there were “some significant financial difficulties” and Mr Norcross may have faced “the loss of a lifetime’s work and potentially the family home owing to a bridging loan, and it appeared that was weighing heavily on him”.
Mr Armstrong said there was no third-party involvement in Mr Norcross’s death.
In a statement read by the coroner, Kirk Norcross said: “During the first lockdown in March 2020 I really noticed my dad change.”
He said he began to sleep in in the morning, and “it was almost like he had a black cloud over his head”.
“He would make passing comments, ‘this money is not worth this agg (aggravation), I’m better offing myself’,” Kirk said.
“I never took this seriously – I thought he was just joking.”
Mick Norcross’s partner Samantha Keahey said, in a statement read by the coroner, that Mr Norcross sold a Range Rover, an Aston Martin and a van and cashed in his private pension early.
“Mick has always supported his family as long as I’ve known him and the thought of not being able to support his family frightened him,” she said.
The inquest heard that on the day he died Mr Norcross wrote on social media “At the end remind yourself that you did the best you could. And that is good enough.”
Ms Keahey said it was “not unusual for Mick to post messages like that” and she did not believe it referred to his actions later that day.
An inquest in Chelmsford recorded Mr Norcross’s cause of death as hanging and concluded that he died by suicide.
Lincoln Brookes, Essex’s senior coroner, told Thursday’s hearing: “He had been under a great deal of pressure and I accept the evidence of his family that he was a very proud man who saw himself as a provider.
“The projects he was working on, however, were taking longer than he had banked on and were not necessarily going to be as profitable as he hoped.
“He had hoped to be in a position to be able to retire.
“When I read his son’s statement I don’t think it’s a coincidence his mood seemed to deteriorate during the period of the Covid lockdown.”
Mr Norcross was introduced to Towie as the owner of the Sugar Hut nightclub, the scene of many of the programme’s famous arguments between cast members.
He left the show in 2013, saying the venue’s prominent place in the show had damaged its brand.
Members of Mr Norcross’s family observed the inquest via Microsoft Teams, and did not attend the court in person.
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