Benefits Street star Fungi ‘killed himself after cancer diagnosis’ as he didn’t want girlfriend ‘to see him in pain’

BENEFITS Street star Fungi killed himself because he was in a lot of pain with cancer and didn’t want his girlfriend to see him suffer, his friend has claimed.

The troubled star who battled booze and crack addiction for years died in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Fungi stands outside his home on James Turner Street in 2014
Fungi, who died aged 50 yesterday, stands outside his home on James Turner Street in 2014
SWNS:South West News Service
One of the last photographs taken of Fungi shows him posing with a fan on June 9
The 50-year-old was last living with his girlfriend, Kerry Tarbuck
The 50-year-old was last living with his girlfriend, Kerrie Tarbuck
SWNS:South West News Service

Police and ambulance crews dashed to a house for recovering drug addicts in Kings Heath, Birmingham at 2.45am.

Dad-of-four Fungi – real name James Clarke – was suffering cardiac arrest and despite desperate attempts to revive him, he died at the scene.

Pal Dave Wilde, 52, who found his body, said: “We had not seen him for a few days so we went round to the house to check on him and the people there had not seen him either so I took the door off and there he was.

“He left a note to his girlfriend Kerrie saying how much he loved her and that she was his world but he did not want to her to see him go through pain and that he had just had enough.

“It is just tragic no-one had checked on him to see if he was OK but he was in a lot of pain with the cancer.

“He had knocked the drugs on the head and was doing really well before he got cancer but he was in a lot of pain at the end. He was having trouble with his legs.

“We loved him, there is a big hole in a lot of people’s lives now he has gone.

“We got on really well, he had done some dodgy things to get money but he did not have a nasty bone in his body.

“He was a good guy, the world is a darker place without him. Life dealt him s**t cards but he got on with it and was loved.”

BENEFITS STREET STAR

The dad-of-four shot to fame following the notorious Channel 4 series following the residents of James Turner Street in Winson Green, Birmingham.

Fungi’s ex-partner Donna Reilly, 44, who raised his eldest daughter Kirsty, 29, after kicking him out, said: “His daughter is in bits.”

Hours after hearing the news of his death, she wrote on Facebook, she wrote: “Death leave a heartache no can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

In 2014 Kirsty, of Birmingham, told how she was she was so disgusted by her dad’s telly antics she banned him from seeing her three kids.

She said: “My dad ruined his own life, my mum’s life, and mine. He deserves to be living on the streets.

“He blames everyone but himself for his problems. He has used up all his chances but he’s still blaming people for his situation.”

Since appearing on the show in 2014, Fungi struggled to combat his drug and alcohol addictions and became embroiled in rows with the other stars.

YOU'RE NOT ALONE

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

Last year he had a bitter spat with White Dee, branding her a “tramp” after claiming fame had changed her.

An emotional Fungi told The Sun: “The friendship has gone now. I’m p***ed off with her.

“I’m supposed to be her family and she ignores me. I love and miss her kids but as for Dee, that woman plays no part in my life.

“I think it’s ridiculous she’s making these comments about the show.

“That’s a joke when you think how well she did financially off the back of it. I didn’t make a f*****g penny.”

While stars like White Dee made a fortune on TV appearances, Fungi struggled to make ends meet and lost his job as a Big Issue Seller and ended up sleeping rough in Birmingham.

He found love with fellow rough sleeper Kerrie Tarbuck, 40, and the pair lived together in the sheltered accommodation in Kings Heath.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT HELL

Earlier this year, Fungi told how he was living in “hell” after his Universal Credit payment was slashed in half.

A pal of Fungi, who asked not to be named, said: “He was living in a sustained housing hostel with ten rooms with a bloke in each.

“I used to live there and Fungi was in room two.

“I got a text at 5.30 am from a bloke in there to say Fungi had been found dead and his body had been removed.

“He said he had left a suicide note but I said that was bo*****s because Fungi couldn’t read or write.

“He sold the Big Issue outside the Hare and Hounds pub in Kings Heath and was always joking with punters.

“He was still on the booze and used to get through five litres of Frosty Jack a day.

“He was a character and I will miss him.”

Ash Chowhan, 35, manager of the home where Fungi was staying, said: “Just last week he was saying to me that he was going to turn his life around, changing his drinking habits.

“It’s sad and shocking news, we’ve known him for a good few years”.

The cause of death is not known but police are not treating it as suspicious.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “Police were called after the body of a man believed to be in his 50s was discovered at an address in Vicarage Road, Kings Heath Small Heath around 2.45am.

“His death is not being treated as suspicious and will be referred to the coroner.”

A West Midlands Ambulance spokesman said: “At 2.52am one ambulance was sent to an address on Vicarage Road, Kings Heath after receiving a call from West Midlands Police.

“On arrival crews found a patient in cardiac arrest. Unfortunately nothing could be done to save him and he was confirmed dead at the scene.”


If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or visit Mind’s website.


Fungi became a well-known figure after starring on the controversial Channel 4 show
Fungi, pictured here in 2019, became a well-known figure after starring on the controversial Channel 4 show
BPM Media
Fungi is pictured here in 2016, looking drastically different to how he appeared in the fly-on-the-wall documentary
Fungi is pictured here in 2016, looking drastically different to how he appeared in the fly-on-the-wall documentary
BPM Media
Fungi, whose real name was James Clarke, was supported by mother figure White Dee on the show
Fungi, whose real name was James Clarke, is pictured here in 2014 with White Dee

Benefits Street star Fungi has died aged 50
SWNS:South West News Service

Benefits Street star Fungi has died aged 50[/caption]

White Dee also rose to fame after starring on the Benefits Street show, alongside Fungi
White Dee also rose to fame after starring on the Benefits Street show, alongside Fungi
Newsteam – SWNS
Fungi's daughter Kirsty Clarke said she had been disgusted with her dad's behaviour on the Benefits Street show
Fungi’s daughter Kirsty Clarke said she had been disgusted with her dad’s behaviour on the Benefits Street show
SWNS:South West News Service

The former crack addict had slammed Universal Credit
The former crack addict had slammed Universal Credit
SWNS:South West News Service
Fungi is pictured here with his daughter Kirsty in 1991
Fungi is pictured here with his daughter Kirsty in 1991
SWNS:South West News Service
Fungi said he had been addicted to drugs and alcohol in his life
Fungi said he had been addicted to drugs and alcohol in his life
SWNS:South West News Service
The shared accommodation in Kings Heath, Birmingham, where Fungi had been living
The shared accommodation in Kings Heath, Birmingham, where Fungi had been living
SWNS:South West News Service

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