THE heartbroken son of a Ringwood woman who took her own life has criticised police for “adding to his distress considerably”.
Matthew Holliday told an inquest into the death of his 56-year-old mother Debbie Haynes that it had taken him nearly two hours to get an officer to check on her the day she died.
He told Winchester Coroner’s Court that Mrs Haynes had a history of depression and had made suicide attempts in the past, so when she failed to answer repeated phone calls he became very concerned.
Mr Holliday, who lives in Nottingham, said he spoke to her every day “without fail”.
On 11th February 2020 the pair had talked in the morning before he received a message from her saying: “I love you” around 10.30am. However, when he called her throughout the day she did not pick up.
Mrs Haynes had been “very down” the week before her death, the coroner heard, so Mr Holliday called 999 asking for an officer to be sent to her Gravel Drive home.
However, he was told by Nottinghamshire Police they could not connect him to the Hampshire force and that he would have to ring them himself.
Mr Holliday then phoned Hampshire police but was held in a queue. “I never, in fact, got through,” he said.
His husband was also trying to get through on the 101 number but failed, too, to get a reply.
“I phoned 999 again and got rather worked up on the phone,” he said. “This was someone at risk of taking their own life.”
He told the court it took him “throwing my toys out of the pram” for the Nottingham force to finally agree to contact their counterparts in Hampshire.
An officer was then sent to Mrs Haynes’ home at 10.50pm and found her dead, lying on her bedroom floor near to empty packets of pills.
A post mortem found that she had died of an overdose of paracetamol and prescription tablets sometime in the morning.
“My experience that evening of the 999 service added to the distress and panic considerably,” said Mr Holliday.
At the scene was a letter to her son along with £100 for his birthday, which the family were due to celebrate together that weekend. In it she stated: “I can’t go on with my head like this.”
Mr Holliday said that his mother, who ran her own chiropody business, had suffered from depression since he and his sister Pia were small. She had tried to kill herself after the breakdown of her first marriage, and when he and his sister had left the family home to go to university.
She had also become suicidal after the death of her second husband months before her own death.
But he said Mrs Haynes could also be “sparkly, fun, wonderful, vibrant, with a love of life. She was like two sides of a coin”.
Superintendent Sukesh Verma, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “We regret that we initially failed to pass on the details in this case and apologise for the distress this may have caused.
“We have provided additional training to our staff as a result of this issue.”
Coroner Jason Pegg told Mrs Haynes’ children: “You did all you could to help your mother with the condition she suffered.”