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Family’s anger as police fail to hand over suicide notes

SECRECY Harry Saunders is angry that suicide notes written by his father Jon Chalk were not passed to the family. Picture: Allan Hutchings (14653-739)

SECRECY Harry Saunders is angry that suicide notes written by his father Jon Chalk were not passed to the family. Picture: Allan Hutchings (14653-739)

 

IT took Harry Saunders and his family seven months to find out how his father died – even though he left notes for them before taking his own life.

Harry’s father, Jonathan Chalk, was found dead in his home in Leopold Road, Southsea, on April 19 last year.

But despite repeated inquiries, the family were not told of the existence of six notes Jonathan left for them.

According to Harry, the police also failed to direct the family towards grievance support and didn’t clean up gloves left at Jonathan’s flat after his body had been removed.

Harry, 22, of Folkestone Road, Copnor, said his dad suffered from bipolar disorder.

He said Jonathan was known to the police as they sometimes had to visit his house to calm him down when he suffered episodes.

Harry said he thought this was the reason the police hadn’t given Jonathan’s death the care or attention it should have had.

‘I think they feel that because he was mentally ill they couldn’t be bothered with it,’ he said.

‘It meant we couldn’t grieve properly, because it was like, well, what are we going to find out next?’

A police spokesperson confirmed that the situation had been recorded as a ‘public complaint by professional standards under the Police Reform Act’.

The spokesperson said: ‘As such, we can’t comment any further whilst this is being investigated.’

An initial inquiry into the cause of the death was inconclusive, and although the family suspected Jonathan may have taken his own life, they also feared it may have been caused by the drugs he was taking for his mental illness.

It was only at an inquest on December 11 that Jonathan was found to have committed suicide and it was revealed that notes had been found at 
the scene.

At the inquest, Coroner Robert Stone said: ‘The police would have taken the notes and they would have passed them on to the coroner.

‘I’m sorry that you were not aware of the existence of the notes, I do apologise for that.

‘It’s clear from one note in particular that Jonathan was intent on taking his own life.’

Jonathan’s mum, Mary Chalk, 78, of Portchester, said the announcement came as a ‘complete shock’.

‘If we had known we could have handled it much easier,’ she said.

Mary said the police also failed to tell her Jonathan’s mobile phone was found at the scene, until later that year. ‘We need justice for Jonathan,’ she added. ‘Even though he was mentally ill he was a good father.’

 

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