Stephen Gately died at a time in his life when he was contented and happy, his civil partner Andrew Cowles has said.

In one of his first interviews since Gately’s death last October, Mr Cowles described his partner’s happiness at writing a novel and being open about his sexuality.

The Boyzone singer, 33, died of natural causes while on holiday in Majorca.

Mr Cowles told the Daily Mirror that reports of Gately dying alone were untrue.

He said: “We know from the pathologist’s report that Stephen died sleeping with me on the sofa. I know that my boy fell asleep under my arm, his heart stopped, he didn’t feel any pain.”

He added: “I do get some comfort from knowing how happy he was that day.

“The night he died, we’d had such a good time, a lovely evening in our favourite restaurant. He was the most happy and confident he’d been in his life, and he’d just finished his book.

“He died under my arm, curled up on the sofa and it was a few good hours before I realised he wasn’t sleeping.”

Gately came out in 1999 and was the first member of a boyband to do so.

But Mr Cowles said his experience of being in the closet had made him very shy.

He said: “Stephen was a very private person. He was shy and a lot of that stemmed from the tough time he had with his sexuality.

“It was very difficult having to lie for the first years of his career. At his low point he would go out at 3am to buy the papers – scouring the tabloids in the middle of the night to see if anyone knew about him.

“Living under that kind of fear – it was wrong that he had to do that. When he came out, it was a major step, it didn’t matter that someone was going to sell the story, he came out with real dignity.

“He had so much mail from people saying ‘I was going to kill myself, but I feel brave enough to live thanks to you’.”

Gately’s book, A Tree of Seasons, is being published this week. Bandmate Ronan Keating said at the funeral that only a few pages were left to write, and would be finished by Gately’s loved ones.

The story, which the singer worked on for four years, is a Harry Potter-style adventure and contains a foreword by Elton John and his civil partner David Furnish.