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14/12/2010

The Lost


Take a look at these pictures. These are human beings. These are two people who were found dead, possibly following suicide. The pictures were commissioned by police in an attempt to identify them. They remain unknown. All deaths outside hospitals are investigated by police to a certain degree. The main thrust of any investigation is to identify the person, and inform their next of kin. There are currently around 700 people on police databases who have never been identified. That's seven hundred. Seven hundred people who have never been missed, who have not had friends or family report their loss to police, who have never had a landlord or employer wonder what has happened to them. It is desperately sad that there are people in this country who are driven to suicide, and that the first person that cares is an anonymous police officer charged with tracing their lives. Here is the true story of one who was identified. Too late.

Donald grew up in Manchester. He lived in a nice stable home, with a close knit family. He did well at school, and secured a place at university, the first in his family. Unknown to anyone, Donald had developed a drink problem. Rather than face the embarrassment of confessing to his family and friends, Donald disappeared. Donald's family reported him to police, however in those days police did not take reports of missing adults. The family made all the enquiries they could to find him without success. Donald's sister ended up marrying his best friend. They stayed living in the family house in case Donald came home. Twenty-five years later, they received a visitor.

Tara grew up in London. She was the apple of her father's eye. A model student, Tara excelled at school, and finally attended a good university. Her father noticed something though. Through her late teens, Tara began to act oddly. It soon became apparent that she was going through the first stages of mental illness. University saw her final descent, with drug taking and alcohol abuse speeding her journey. She dropped out, and returned to London.

Tara was supported by her father. She became a regular user of mental health services, and was detained for treatment under the Mental Health Act at one point. Upon release, Tara engaged less and less with support agencies. Her drug taking became worse, and she turned to prostitution to feed her habit, roaming the streets of London, defying all attempts by nurses and her family to make her well again.

Tara met an older man. He was nice, and they used to drink together in his bedsit. He didn't abuse her, and she used to visit him often. They would sometimes row, but there was no violence, and the arguing usually descended into a drinking binge. Tara and Donald were a couple. One night Tara went to Donald's flat. She was shown on CCTV entering the block, then coming out an hour later. She tried to sell Donald's phone to a local shop. She then went into a phonebox and dialled 999. She told the operator Donald had been murdered. Donald was found in his flat stabbed to death.

Tara was arrested for murder. Her father came to the police station to see her, and act as her 'Appropriate Adult' due to her mental health issues. I remember the tears in his eyes as he was escorted out later the next day.

Donald's family were traced, and a police officer went to see his sister. Twenty-five years after Donald had disappeared he was found.

Tara was charged with murder, however was found unfit to plead. She was detained without limit of time under the Mental Health Act. Donald's family attended the hearing, and watched as Tara was led away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How sad, depressing really, As an old man I look around me and see so many people alone , some lucky have a pet, most not , so many here have no safe place to kip.
dungbeetle