Coroner’s Report

July 7, 2014 2:20 pm

Based on the suicide of a mentally disturbed man in Wales, UK.

PC Alwyn Thomas was driving on his routine round when he came upon the industrial estate. It had been disused for some years so the faint light emitting struck him as curious. He drove his car slowly into the estate car-park and the light grew brighter. He stopped his vehicle and got out, cursing the cold night. He slowly and carefully fixed his nightstick to his belt and pulled his dark blue police issue pants to his hip. He exhaled and watched his breath drift by in the reflection of the car’s headlights, the engine was still running. He expected to find two teenagers or a drunk man sleeping but he didn’t.

He took deliberate and purposeful footsteps toward the car but before he knocked on the window he saw it. Bloated and pink and eyeballs peering into the darkness, a man’s body sloped against the driver’s window. It was the first dead body he had discovered. “I’ve never found a dead one before. It looked so real” says Alwyn in a thick Welsh accent.

policeman approaching carThe poor soul Alwyn came upon was later named at a coroner’s court as Terrence O’Shea, 22, a local boy. “I must say I never knew the lad. Seemed like a decent fella though like” says Alwyn, 3 months after that night. He drove the 30 minutes to Terrence’s home, in Cardiff, which he shared with his mother, Margaret. When he rang the doorbell Margaret was already dressed for bed and answered the door in her dressing gown. After she was told of her son’s death and the circumstances, Mrs. O’Shea asked Alwyn if Terrence was dressed heavily. It was a dreadfully cold winter in Wales and Mrs. O’Shea always worried about her boy not wearing enough layers. Alwyn told her he was suitably dressed for the night.

Four months before that freezing, bleak night in November, Terrence O’Shea was a patient at the psychiatric ward of Whitchurch Hospital. He voluntarily checked himself in after attempting to kill himself. He was assessed by number of psychiatrics but no diagnosis of mental illness was delivered. After 10 days of therapy he was discharged. Free to leave the hospital and return home. Free to buy a beer or a bus pass or a car.

Mrs. O’Shea grew more and more anxious about her son’s dark moods. “He would sit in his room all day long and stare out the window. I used to wander in and talk to him but nothing. No response. He would just sit there and stare.” She tried to phone the hospital and plead with his doctor to re-admit him but her message was not clearly relayed to Terrence’s main psychiatric doctor. He remained in his mother’s house and in his room staring out his bedroom window to an overgrown garden and scattered green picnic chairs.

At some point Terrence had enough of the routine he found himself in and decided on a definite course of action. His mother described how he would rise everyday at 6:30am and eat a spartan breakfast of black tea and bread crusts. He would walk a half a mile to the local shop, buy one pint of milk and return home again. There, he would sit in his room and stare. Sometimes the door would be closed and Mrs. O’Shea only guessed at where his mind would take him.

On one particularly cold morning in November Mrs. O’Shea woke up to find she was alone in the home she shared with Terrence and his father for over fifty years. “I don’t know what it was but I just couldn’t shake this feeling. This overwhelming feeling, like a rock on my chest, and I knew something awful had happened. I knew I had finally lost my Terry.”

Later that evening PC Alwyn Thomas would spot headlights in an abandoned industrial estate and make the discovery that Mrs. O’Shea feared the most. “I don’t know what I’ll do now, I’ve lost my poor baby. My only boy.”

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