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Tragic Love Island star Sophie Gradon‘s bereaved father has been spared jail for smashing into a telegraph pole while drink driving – after a judge heard about his daughter’s suicide.

Sophie, 32, one of the stars of Love Island 2016, killed herself after mixing alcohol and cocaine at the family home two years after her moment in the limelight – in a case that sparked national discussion about the show.

Now MailOnline has learned that her father Colin was let off prison this month after a judge took pity on him after hearing how both her and his wife Deborah had struggled to cope with Sophie’s loss.

Colin Gradon, the owner of a groundworks company with eight staff, was told that instead of custody he would be fined £1,000 and banned from driving when he appeared at Newcastle magistrates court for smashing his Land Rover Discovery while drunk.

The smash happened on a winding country road on November 5, 2022, and the impact with a telegraph pole saw electricity supplies to surrounding homes cut off.

Sophie Gradon - killed herself after mixing alcohol and cocaine at the family home two years ago - pictured with her father and mother

Sophie Gradon – killed herself after mixing alcohol and cocaine at the family home two years ago – pictured with her father and mother 

Colin Gradon - pictured with his wife and daughter - has been spared jail for smashing into a telegraph pole while drink driving

Colin Gradon – pictured with his wife and daughter – has been spared jail for smashing into a telegraph pole while drink driving

Colin Graydon - father of Love Island star Sophie Graydon - pictured outside Newcastle magistrates court where he appeared for smashing his Land Rover Discovery while drunk

Colin Graydon – father of Love Island star Sophie Graydon – pictured outside Newcastle magistrates court where he appeared for smashing his Land Rover Discovery while drunk

Gradon was arrested three hours later after leaving the scene and police officers smelt drink and breathalysed him, discovering he was over the legal drink drive limit.

Mr Gradon denied the offence but was convicted after a three day trial – however he has already launched an appeal as although he admits leaving the accident scene he still maintains he wasn’t drunk when he crashed.

At his home in Medburn, Northumberland, today he told MailOnline of the continuing trauma of losing his daughter and how the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder it left him with had influenced his behaviour that night.

Mr Gradon, of Medburn, Northumberland, said: ‘You never get over losing your child and Deborah and I are still living every day with that reality.

‘Losing Sophie was devastating and things are still not good for either of us. I am on medication and I’m suffering from PTSD as a result of what happened.

‘Unfortunately that was a factor in what happened on Guy Fawkes night when I had the accident.’

He said he had been at home and had not been drinking when he received word there had been a potential break-in at his business premises nearby.

Mr Gradon said: ‘I got in the car and was driving out there when I swerved off the road to avoid hitting a deer and struck the telegraph pole.

‘At that point the PTSD kicked in and I walked away, I walked back home across the fields, I was frozen and soaking wet.

Sophie, 32, was one of the contestants on Love Island in 2016

Sophie is pictured in a promo shot for Love Island in 2016

Sophie is pictured in a promo shot for Love Island in 2016

‘When I got in I stripped off and got warm and had a whisky to stop myself shaking and hyperventilating. I then had another whisky and went to bed.

‘Three hours later I could hear people shouting at me to get up, to get out of bed. The police had arrived and gained entry to our house and were shouting by the bed.

‘They said I had been drinking and I said I had after the accident. One of the police officers said he felt I had been drinking during the crash and I was taken in and breathalysed.

‘That’s what led to the court case and to me being convicted but we have strong evidence that we hope will prove I only drank after the accident and that will be heard at the appeal.’

He said losing his licence has taken away a part of his ‘coping mechanism.’

Mr Gradon said: ‘Working has been part of my coping mechanism, being busy means I don’t have too much time to sit and think.

‘I’m still not able to spend time going through old photographs and videos of Sophie, I have focused on my work and being unable to do that has been hard.

‘As friends have told me, Sophie would not want her dad to be miserable, she would want me to be busy and active.’

Following the trial he was found guilty by District Judge, Paul Currer,.

Sophie Gradon pictured with her father Colin and mother Deborah

Sophie Gradon pictured with her father Colin and mother Deborah

Sophie pictured with her mother Deborah. Mr and Mrs Gradon have previously spoken of their despair at losing Sophie and slammed the 'three ring circus' of Love Island

Sophie pictured with her mother Deborah. Mr and Mrs Gradon have previously spoken of their despair at losing Sophie and slammed the ‘three ring circus’ of Love Island

Judge Currer told him in sentencing remarks: ‘You lost control, went to the near side [of the road] and demolished a telegraph pole, cutting the electricity supply to nearby premises. It was taken clean out of the ground. You then left the scene and didn’t report it.

‘You walked away across fields and back home but were arrested when police made inquiries. You have maintained your innocence throughout and challenged every single part of the prosecution’s case.’

Judge Currer added: ‘You have personal circumstances which are relevant and [you] saw a decline in your mental health through a tragic bereavement. There have been positive things many have said about you, you’re a man who’s worked hard all his life and who cares for your community and family.’

Ashley Barnes, defending, did not put anything further to the court after the judge told him he would impose a financial penalty.

He did say that some delays during the trial were down to the ‘non-arrival of witnesses’ and were not the fault of Mr Gradon.

Gradon was fined £1,000 and banned from driving for 16 months, which could be reduced to 12 months if he completes a driving awareness course. He must also pay £1,860 court costs and a £400 victim surcharge.

Mr and Mrs Gradon have previously spoken of their despair at losing Sophie and slammed the ‘three ring circus’ of Love Island.

After the death of Love Island host Caroline Flack, Deborah Gradon, told MailOnline: ‘I’d got to the stage where I could go out and speak to people, then something like this happens and you just want to go to bed and not get up. The only emotion you feel is the hollowness, the emptiness.

‘To lose your child is to suffer unspeakable loss. And too many parents have lost their children because of this three-ring circus.’

Sophie was the first person involved in the reality TV dating show to take her own life, after struggling with anxiety and depression.

Former Love Island host Caroline Flack took her own life on February 15 2020

Former Love Island host Caroline Flack took her own life on February 15 2020

Mike Thalassitis, who appeared on Love Island a year after Sophie, also killed himself in 2019

Mike Thalassitis, who appeared on Love Island a year after Sophie, also killed himself in 2019

Mrs Gradon said at that time: ‘We just exist. The one person you live for isn’t here and you wonder why. Why? What’s the purpose of life? We won’t have any grandchildren. We’ve got no future. Everything we dreamt about is gone.’

In April 2019 an inquest in North Tyneside concluded Sophie took her own life by hanging after consuming alcohol and cocaine.

On 19 June, Gradon had exchanged messages with her friend Hannah McGuire, who later told police she had been ‘happy and did not appear troubled’

Coroner Eric Armstrong said the former Miss Great Britain would not have acted as she did if she had not taken cocaine and alcohol, which had made her behave irrationally.

He said: ‘The combination I am given to understand is used by those who believe it brings on a so-called high much quicker.

‘What they may not appreciate is it is also now thought to give riseto violent thoughts, and those thoughts can be against the self.’

Three weeks after Sophie’s death her then boyfriend Aaron Armstrong also killed himself.

Another Love Island contestant, Michael Thalassitis, known as Muggy Mike then also took his own life.

When the show’s presenter Caroline Flack’s subsequently also died by suicide four years ago, the programmer come under intense scrutiny but was allowed to continue.

For confidential support, call Samaritans on 116 123, visit samaritans.org or visit https://www.thecalmzone.net/get-support

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This post first appeared on Daily mail

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