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

Christ­mas

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

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