Irish boy-band star Stephen Gately died of natural causes, not from binge drinking or drug consumption, Spanish police said. Autopsy results from Gately's unexpected death during a vacation in Majorca, Spain, were revealed at a court hearing today.
Officials told the court that Gately, 33, suffered a pulmonary oedema, or a build up of fluid in the lungs, which ultimately results in respiratory failure. The condition is usually caused by damage to lung tissue or circulation problems.
Police would not confirm whether Gately had been drinking or taking drugs before his death but ruled them out as causes of his death.
After the witness statements and tests are confirmed, the judge noted, the case will be closed. The judge also gave Gately's family and his partner, Andy Cowles, permission to take the singer's body home to Ireland.
Cowles attended today's hearing and left court looking visibly upset.
Gately, the first Irish, boy-band star to come out as gay during his stint in the band Boyzone, was on vacation with Cowles when he was found dead on the sofa at 1:45 a.m. Saturday.
Media reports raised questions about whether the young star had died because of an overdose of drugs or from alcohol abuse, even as a Gately family spokesman denounced such reports, saying, "There is nothing untoward. It's not drugs, we don't believe. It's not suicide, it's not murder, it's not a fight. That's what we've been told."
One of Boyzone's two lead singers, Gately was known as a quiet, introspective man, fond of exploring alternative therapies such as crystals and meditation. He spoke of his battles with depression, suffering a two-year addiction to prescription drugs when the band split up in 2000.
Pop star Sir Elton John helped the singer end his addiction, introducing him to his long-term partner, businessman Andy Cowles, who was in Majorca with him.
John said Sunday he was "stunned by this tragedy," describing Gately as "the kindest, gentlest soul. ...We send our love and condolences to his partner Andy and to all his friends everywhere."
Gately's former band colleagues also expressed their grief on Gately's official Web site, saying he was "our friend and brother.
"We have shared such wonderful times together over the years and were all looking forward to sharing many more," a statement said.
"Stephen was a beautiful person in both body and spirit. He lit up our lives and those of the many friends he had all over the world. Our love and sympathy go out to Andrew and Stephen's family. We love you and will miss you forever."
Boyzone scored six No. 1 hits during the 1990s and Gately, in particular, won praise from many for coming out as gay at the age of 23.
Gately was compelled to acknowledge his homosexuality publicly when a former member of the band's security detail threatened to sell his story to the tabloids.
On June 16, 1999, Gately gave an interview to Britain's The Sun newspaper, saying, "I'm gay and I'm in love."
He described the decision to come out as "the hardest thing I have ever had to do but I owe it to our fans -- as well as myself -- to be completely honest.
"I know this may come as a bombshell to our followers. Many of them may be upset. I only hope they understand how important it is for me to reveal that I am gay."