Michael Barrymore was in ‘no fit state to entertain’ and ‘wanted to have sex’ on the night Stuart Lubbock was found dead in his swimming pool, a taxi driver has claimed.
Keith Miller said he picked the TV star and Mr Lubbock up outside of a nightclub in Essex just after 2am on March 31, 2001, the night the younger man died.
Mr Miller said he drove them and two others to Barrymore’s estate in Essex, ahead of a party which would end with Mr Lubbock being found lifeless in the swimming pool.
The taxi driver’s claims were made in a Channel 4 documentary that aired last night and looked into Mr Lubbock’s death, which remains unsolved.
Mr Lubbock was found with ‘horrific’ anal injuries and police believe that he was raped and murdered – though Barrymore has always denied any wrongdoing.
Speaking in the documentary, Mr Miller said Barrymore ‘liked a drink’, and appeared to be drunk outside the nightclub.
The taxi driver added that, halfway through the journey to Barrymore’s home, the TV star leaned forward and whispered to him: ‘I could do with a f*** right now.’
Mr Miller also admitted that he thought Barrymore was ‘in no fit state to entertain’ when he dropped the group off, just after 2.30am.
A party then started at 2.47am with nine people, including Mr Lubbock and Barrymore.
However, emergency services were called to the property at 5.38am after Mr Lubbock’s body was found and he was later pronounced dead at 8.23am.
The other people present on the night were Barrymore’s ex Jonathan Kenney, Justin Merritt and his sister Kylie, Claire Jones and Kelly Campbell and Simon Shaw and James Futers.
Barrymore, who was recently forced to pull out of Dancing on Ice because of an injury and was one of ITV’s biggest stars with a string of hit shows including Strike It Lucky, fled from the house before police arrived.
A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Lubbock, a divorced father-of-two from Harlow, had suffered major internal injuries consistent with rape.
The cause of death was never established and an open verdict was recorded after conflicting reports from pathologists. Cocaine, ecstasy and alcohol were found in his system.
Barrymore was arrested on suspicion of rape and serious sexual assault in 2007, along with two other people. No charges were brought due to lack of evidence.
Barrymore, – who has always denied any involvement in the death – launched a high court case for £2.4million damages for wrongful arrest. He received a nominal sum after Essex Police won an appeal.
Tonight’s documentary shone a light on the case, which remains unsolved, and also included comments from Mr Lubbock’s father.
Terry Lubbock attacked the ‘f***** b*******’ who he thinks murdered his son and said: ‘It has consumed me, what happened to Stuart. It has taken over my life.’
The new documentary also aired the phone call that first alerted emergency services to the tragedy for the first time.
In it, an unknown reveller who also attended the party at Barrymore’s house tells of how he had just stepped out into the TV presenter’s garden when he spotted Mr Lubbock’s body just after 5.30am.
After the man gives the 999 operator Barrymore’s address he tells them: ‘A geezer’s drowned in the pool’.
They ask if he is still in the water, to which the man replies: ‘No, we’ve got them out.’
He adds: ‘There’s a party going on and someone’s just gone out and found him.’
The party-goer tells the call handler he has not gone out to a party in four years because of his childcare duties before adding: ‘F***ing hell, you don’t expect it do you.’
Then, as he waits for the ambulance to arrive, he adds: ‘I think the geezer’s dead mate.’
Ahead of the documentary airing, Barrymore released a passionate video defending himself against allegations he was involved in Mr Lubbock’s death.
He said: ‘I’ve been asked by various sections of the press to comment upon the Channel 4 documentary that is to be broadcast tonight.
‘As I’ve made clear to everyone, I’m not able to comment because Channel 4 are refusing to show it to me or even let me know what it contains.
‘Forgive me for looking down at the iPad but I don’t want to get any of this wrong.
‘However, I will say to anyone who would like to get to the truth of the matter that they should watch the ITV interview I did last year with Piers Morgan. He went into everything and left no stone unturned.
‘The truth is I have always done everything anyone has ever asked of me and I’ve cooperated with everyone.
‘Essex Police’s own QC has said that: ”We know that Mr Barrymore has has nothing to do with this and that there is no evidence linking him with the injuries to Mr Lubbock or the pool”.
‘I have had nothing to do with this whatsoever and yet I keep getting bashed and bullied by the media. I may comment further once I’ve seen the show go out later tonight.
‘In the meantime, my heartfelt sympathies are with the Lubbock family and I truly hope they find peace.
‘And it is for that reason that I have constantly pressed for an independent police force to examine everything to do with the case and reach a proper conclusion and I shall continue to do so.’
At a press conference on Monday , Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings, the fifth senior investigating officer involved in the case, said he believed at least two of the guests were responsible, given Mr Lubbock’s injuries.
To coincide with the new Channel 4 documentary, police revealed they were offering a £20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.