31 October 1983|
|Died||6 December 2007
Navan, County Meath
Katy Ellen French (31 October 1983 – 6 December 2007) was an Irish socialite, model, writer, television personality and charity worker. According to the BBC, "in the space of less than two years, she had become one of Ireland's best-known models and socialites." She collapsed at a friend's house on 2 December 2007 and died on 6 December. A post mortem examination determined that she had suffered brain damage, and that traces of cocaine were found in her body.
French was born in Basel, Switzerland, to parents Janet (from Britain) and John (from Australia) French. She moved with her family to Ireland aged two, briefly living in the Sandyford area before settling in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, and later to Stillorgan, County Dublin. French attended Alexandra College in Milltown, Dublin, from the age seven. While still in school she worked part-time as a hostess at the Dublin branch of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain.
Katy French studied psychology and marketing before working for the Assets Modelling Agency and later writing articles for several Dublin magazines and newspapers. She represented Sony Ericsson and Suzuki among many other brands, becoming more famous in 2007 as a result of her fiancé, restaurateur Marcus Sweeney, ending their relationship in a very public fashion after French was photographed for a lingerie shoot for the Sunday Independent in his restaurant in January of that year. As a result of this publicity, her image appeared more regularly in daily Irish tabloid newspapers and she made numerous television appearances on shows such as RTÉ's The Podge and Rodge Show in April 2007 and Tubridy Tonight a week before her death. French was known for deliberately courting controversy to promote her career. On Tubridy Tonight she spoke of her appearance on Celebrities Go Wild as well as her relationship break up with Sweeney. Mention was also made of her birthday party which she was to celebrate the following week, having missed her birthday due to Celebrities Go Wild. Host Ryan Tubridy was invited to the event. Footage was shown of the charity single "Down in the Bog" which was to be released as a Christmas single. She worked for several Irish charities including Crumlin Children's Hospital and GOAL GOAL in Calcutta, India. She wrote a column for Social & Personal magazine.
In an interview with Hot Press's Jason O'Toole, she said that she would consider having an abortion if she became pregnant during the peak of her career, a controversial claim in Ireland where abortion is effectively illegal, and that she loved fur despite being a "massive animal lover". She also aired her religious beliefs (she was a member of the Church of England but also practised Catholicism) and spoke highly of Islam and her Muslim friends saying, "When you read the Koran, you realise that Islam is a beautiful religion". In the same interview she was asked if she had ever used cocaine and denied ever having done so. In November 2007, French told an Irish tabloid that she had used cocaine, but had stopped. The week before she died, she celebrated her 24th birthday with celebrity and media friends.
French died on the evening of 6 December 2007 in Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, in County Meath, having collapsed at a house in Kilmessan, County Meath, in the early hours of Sunday 2 December. There was widespread speculation in the media that her death was the result of a drug overdose. A post mortem found she had suffered brain damage, and that traces of cocaine were found in her body. A senior Garda stated "We strongly suspect that drugs contributed to her death. This was a previously healthy person being brought to hospital in a collapsed state." In 2010 two people were charged with supplying cocaine to Katy French and in failing to get medical assistance in a timely fashion. She was buried in her hometown of Enniskerry, County Wicklow, on 10 December. The Taoiseach's aide de camp, Captain Michael Tracey, attended her funeral. On the 13th November, 2012, two friends of French, Kieron Ducie and Ann Corcoran, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply on the weekend of French's death. Trim Circuit Court was told that a second charge against the pair was not being pursued, that they had intentionally or recklessly engaged in behaviour relating to the supply of cocaine to French and failed to get medical assistance in a timely fashion.
- Post-mortem is due on Irish model - BBC News. 7 December 2007
- Logue, Patrick (2008-02-20). "Three arrested in Katy French investigation". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- "Three arrests in French investigation". RTÉ. 2008-02-20. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- "Top model died from massive brain damage after suspected cocaine overdose". Daily Mail. 8 December 2007. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- "Model Katy French dies 5 days after collapsing at party". Belfast Telegraph. 2007-12-06. Archived from the original on 2007-12-08. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
- "What Marcus Sweeney and Katy French did next ...". Sunday Independent. 2007-02-25.
- Tributes paid to Katy French - RTÉ News - 7 December 2007
- Mambuck, Maeva (2007-12-21). "Model Katy French Remains Controversial After Death". ABC News. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- "This year's model". Hot Press. 2007-10-26.
- "Blessing of troubled teenage years" - Irish Independent Weekend Review - Sat. 8 Dec 2007, p.5
- "Andrea fills in the gaps over Katy's final hours". Irish Independent. 2007-12-10. Retrieved 2007-12-11.
- Brady, Tom (2008-02-11). "Three face arrest in tragic Katy death probe". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- "Model Katy French dies in hospital". RTÉ. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
- "Top Irish model dies in hospital". BBC. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
- Kelly, John (27 February 2008). "Irish Drug Cops Join Katy French Inquiry". Sky News. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- "Two in court in Katy French inquiry". RTÉ. 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Official Katy French website set up by Janet and Jill French
- Katy French's last television interview, 24 November 2007.
- Irish women attack me just because I'm not afraid of my sexuality, Sunday Independent interview with Katy French, 21 October 2007.
- I've worn a few hot bras in my time -- but I've never burnt one, Sunday Independent interview with Katy French, 4 November 2007.
- French's appearance on The Once a Week Show 22 September 2007. RTÉ. Accessed 21 November 2008.
- Katy French at the Internet Movie Database
- Katy French at Find a Grave