Too an­gry to say good­bye

Ca­role Ferguson, 66, from ellesmere Port, is tor­mented by guilt af­ter her tragic loss

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

My hus­band David, 66, smiled as he recorded our grand­sons David, 18, and Daniel, 16, laugh­ing and jok­ing.

‘Happy Christ­mas, Nan,’ Daniel smiled, hand­ing me a gift bag.

In­side was a £60 tablet. ‘You shouldn’t have spent your pocket money on me, love,’ I gasped.

‘You do so much for me,’ he smiled. ‘You de­serve some­thing nice.’

Hear­ing that meant more than all the presents in the world.

It was


2016 and the last few years hadn’t been easy.

Daniel and David had lived with us since

2014, af­ter their par­ents had split.

At our time of life, look­ing af­ter teenagers was hard work. But I loved the very bones of those boys.

Daniel strug­gled at school and, at 15, he was ex­cluded, but he found a lo­cal ap­pren­tice­ship at Hayrack Church Farm. He’d muck out the ponies and feed the pigs.

‘I love it, Nan,’ he beamed in Jan­uary 2017.

Ev­ery af­ter­noon, he’d come home for tea. Then he’d sit on the floor, with me on the arm­chair, while I played Candy Crush on my new tablet. By now, his brother had left home. And though Daniel was 16, we still had strict house rules. He had to ask be­fore he went out with his mates. ‘Home by 9pm,’ I’d say. There were a lot of dodgy teens around, tak­ing drugs.

‘I’d never do that,’ Daniel said, shak­ing his head. I be­lieved it, too.

He spent most of the time hooked up to his Xbox.

That’s what he was do­ing when I popped my head round the door to say good­night at 10pm on 8 March 2017. ‘Night, Nan,’ he smiled. Soon, I was out for the count. Next morn­ing, I awoke when the door­bell rang at 6am. Who’s call­ing at this time?

I opened the door to find two po­lice of­fi­cers.

‘Your grand­son Daniel’s in hos­pi­tal,’ one said.

‘No, he’s in bed,’ I replied. I turned around and rushed to his bed­room. Empty. Daniel must have snuck out in the night.

The po­lice said he’d been found ly­ing in­jured in a street

in Ellesmere Port.

Ear­lier, he’d been seen roam­ing around town with some lads. Tak­ing drugs. ‘Daniel would never do that,’ I in­sisted.

They as­sured me it was true. I was dev­as­tated.

Then the anger came. How dare he?!

‘Daniel’s OK, he’s chat­ting to the doc­tors and nurses about Xbox games,’ the of­fi­cer said. Then...

‘Would you like to see him?’ I wanted to rush straight there and wrap my arms around him.

But I was fu­ri­ous that he’d put him­self in dan­ger and bro­ken the law.

‘I’m too an­gry to see him right now,’ I said. ‘I’ll wait un­til he’s brought home.’

Agree­ing with me, my hus­band David went to work, say­ing, ‘I’ll talk to him tonight.’

Af­ter the po­lice had left, I marched to Daniel’s bed­room and shoved his beloved Xbox in a bin bag.

‘He’s not play­ing that again,’ I fumed.

I was still seething when the phone rang at 8.15am.

It was a nurse from the

I miss him ter­ri­bly – and have a mes­sage for all par­ents of teenagers...

Countess of Ch­ester Hos­pi­tal. ‘I’m afraid Daniel’s taken a turn for the worse,’ they said. My veins turned to ice.

‘I’ll be right there,’ I said. I drove to the hos­pi­tal and found Daniel in a bed, un­con­scious, on life sup­port... his or­gans fail­ing.

‘My poor boy!’ I wept.

Why didn’t I come sooner? But no-one – not the po­lice or the doc­tors – had pre­dicted this.

As fam­ily gath­ered, Daniel fought for his life.

Over the next 12 hours, his heart stopped five times. Each time, the doc­tors brought him back.

In the rel­a­tives room, the con­sul­tant kept us up­dated, but each time the news was worse than the last.

I went in to see him, his heart des­per­ately pump­ing away, at­tached to ma­chines, his body cov­ered in wires.

‘Come on, Daniel,’ I said. But I had to leave, it was too much to bear.

That evening, his heart stopped – and this time, de­spite the hard work of hos­pi­tal staff, he couldn’t be saved.

‘He’s gone,’ the doc­tor said. I was lost in grief.

The dev­as­ta­tion wors­ened when po­lice re­vealed the hor­ri­fy­ing truth of what had hap­pened that night.

Daniel had snuck out in the early hours to meet some so-called friends, and taken MDMA for the first time.

The lads had then beaten him up while he’d been out of his mind on drugs.

The po­lice had found him with se­ri­ous but not lifethreat­en­ing in­juries. No-one could have known he’d suf­fer or­gan fail­ure in hos­pi­tal.

In April 2017, we held a beau­ti­ful fu­neral at Hayrack Church Farm, where Daniel had been so happy.

But, af­ter­wards, sit­ting alone on the sofa, I wept with guilt.

‘If only I’d gone to hos­pi­tal straight away,’ I sobbed.

At least I’d have been able to say good­bye.

The first Christ­mas with­out him was agony. We watched the video of us open­ing his gifts the pre­vi­ous year, and cried.

Strug­gling to cope, I had grief coun­selling and went to see the con­sul­tant and nurse who’d treated Daniel that night.

They re­as­sured me he’d been chat­ting away, hadn’t known he was dy­ing or been fright­ened. It was com­fort­ing.

This sum­mer, we went to Ch­ester Crown Court, where three of the lads who’d been with Daniel that night were on trial for at­tack­ing him.

The as­sault and the hand­ing over of a class-a drug were not linked to the cause of his death, but the court heard the lads had re­peat­edly beaten Daniel af­ter he’d taken drugs and was at his most vul­ner­a­ble.

CCTV footage showed him look­ing in­tox­i­cated, squar­ing up to one of the group at 3.50am.

He threw a punch and was pushed to the ground in re­tal­i­a­tion. The gang then punched and kicked him.

Daniel scram­bled to his feet, but one of the gang punched and pushed him.

An­other fight broke out again later and Daniel was punched to the ground again.

The court heard that a post-mortem had found Daniel had three frac­tured ribs, and had died of a drug over­dose, but that the as­sault was not linked to his death.

Judge Pa­trick Thomp­son said Daniel had taken a num­ber of drugs, in­clud­ing the MDMA pill, and he stressed that the three de­fen­dants were not fac­ing man­slaugh­ter charges.

Still, I wept with re­lief when Nathan Green, 18, was jailed for 48 months af­ter ad­mit­ting as­sault caus­ing ac­tual bod­ily harm, sup­ply­ing Daniel with a class-a drug on the night of his death and of­fer­ing to sup­ply both class-a and -B drugs.

Ste­wart Tal­lis, 19, and Jamie Carter, 19, were both con­victed of as­sault oc­ca­sion­ing ABH and each sen­tenced to 12 months in a young of­fend­ers in­sti­tu­tion.

Carter also re­ceived two months de­ten­tion af­ter be­ing con­victed of pub­lic nui­sance.

Two boys aged 16 and 17, who can’t be named, ad­mit­ted one count of ABH each and were sen­tenced sep­a­rately at a youth court. The 16-year-old was given an eight-month de­ten­tion and train­ing-or­der sen­tence, which was re­duced to six months on ap­peal. The other re­ceived a 12-month re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion or­der, plus court costs of £85 and a victim sur­charge of £20.

See­ing them jailed didn’t lessen the pain of los­ing Daniel. I miss him ter­ri­bly, and just wish I could have said good­bye.

I want to urge all par­ents of teenagers to check they’re in bed be­fore you go to bed and if you get up in the night.

If I’d have done that, I might still have my boy.

In­stead, this Christ­mas I’ll be watch­ing the video of Daniel laugh­ing by the tree again, and re­mem­ber­ing just what I’ve lost.

I loved the very bones of David and Daniel

Daniel on the farm

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.