Haydon Croucher's mother warns there's 'still a lot to learn'

Tragic Haydon Croucher’s mother warns there’s ‘still a lot to learn’ after her son killed himself nine months on from his sister Leah’s disappearance despite ‘begging for help’

  • Haydon Croucher, 24, was found hanging in his flat in Bletchley, Milton Keynes
  • Was found in November, nine months after Leah disappeared in February 2018
  • Was rushed to hospital where he died two days later on 16 November last year
  • For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local branch 

Haydon Croucher’s mother has warned there’s ‘still a lot to learn’ from her son’s suicide when his calls for help when unanswered nine months on from his sister Leah’s disappearance.  

Haydon, 24, was found hanging in his flat in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, by his mother Tracey Furness and sister Jade.

He was rushed to hospital where he died two days later on November 16 last year, Milton Keynes coroner’s court heard Tuesday. 

In a statement issued through her solicitors Mrs Furness said: ‘The family considers the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust still have a lot to learn from the avoidable death of Haydon and others before him.’

Haydon was brought to Milton Keynes hospital for assessment for admission by his therapist Chantelle Tillison. But there were no beds available and he was sent home. 

Haydon Croucher, 24, was found hanging in his flat in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, by his mother Tracey Furness and sister Jade. Pictured, Mrs Furness and Haydon when he was a child

‘The family believe that a different outcome would have ensued had Haydon been admitted and offered a bed. We consider that there are additional failings that have led to Haydon’s death,’ the statement added. 

Ms Tillison, who was an assistant therapist, said that at the last of three sessions with Mr Croucher, on 16 October last year, he said he saw no future for himself.

Ms Tillison said: ‘He felt hopeless and said he would be better off dead. 

‘He explained Leah was still missing and found it difficult to cope with no family support. 

‘He fixated on hanging himself. He said if he had the means to hang himself he would.’

She said she was so concerned she persuaded him to go in her car to Milton Keynes hospital for an assessment for admission. ‘It was evident he was unwell,’ she said.

Haydon, the brother of missing teenager Leah Croucher (pictured together), killed himself after telling a therapist he was finding it difficult to cope and was fixated on hanging himself

The inquest heard he was not admitted after saying he did not want to go to a psychiatric bed out of the area, as there were none available locally.

Mrs Furness’ statement added: ‘The family and Oakwood Solicitors still have concerns over the provision of beds available at the Trust. 

‘At the inquest we heard of intentions to renovate the inpatient ward facilities, which would see a reduction in availability of beds. 

‘This is a concern given that at the time of Haydon’s crisis no local bed was available in addition the provision of an out of area bed was not explored with Haydon and he was simply sent home with no adequate provision for support.’

Mrs Durness was forced to try to support her son at home when admission was ‘the safest option’, it added.

The Trust has since changed its time-limited system to allow 24-hour access to Crisis Support, something the family praised.      

He was found hanging in his flat in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, nine months after Leah disappeared. He was rushed to hospital where he died two days later on 16 November last year. Pictured: His family holding his hand as he lay in his hospital bed

Dr Jibran Syeed, who was with the home treatment team, said he visited Mr Croucher at home on 18 October. 

He said: ‘He (Mr Croucher) had been quite a confident person and outgoing. He mentioned boxing and taekwondo. 

‘It was reflected by the medals in his home. Now he had no confidence, no motivation for the future and had thoughts of suicide in the past.’

At their second meeting, on November 8, the doctor said he was more positive and was engaging with his family. 

‘He was getting on with certain chores and was trying to find a job. He was active in ideas about what he wanted to do. His suicide risk was lower.’

The doctor stopped his Resperidone – an antipsychotic drug, which is used to affect mood disorder. 

The doctor said Mr Croucher had been on the drug since 2014, but there had been times when he had not been taking it. 

He said he made the assessment that he should stop taking it because it was a low dose and he was not ‘expressing psychosis.’

Haydon’s death came nine months after his half-sister Leah (pictured on CCTV footage captured in the hours up to her disappearance), 19, vanished on 15 February last year

The doctor agreed that he did not envisage Mr Croucher being discharged from the home treatment team four days later.

Colin Garvey, a community psychiatric nurse with the Central and North West London NHS Trust, said that when Mr Croucher was seen at Milton Keynes hospital on 16 October there were no beds available locally. 

He said a plan was agreed for him to stay temporarily at his mother’s home.

Tom Osborne, the Senior Coroner for Milton Keynes, asked Mr Garvey: ‘If you had formed the only way to keep him safe was for him to be admitted you could have exercised your powers under the mental health act?’ Mr Garvey replied: ‘Yes.’  

Chantelle Tillison, who was an assistant therapist, said that at the last of three sessions with Mr Croucher, on 16 October last year, he said he saw no future for himself. Pictured: Haydon and Leah  

Mr Garvey said that he did not remember any member of staff objecting to Mr Croucher being discharged from the mental health team and returned to the care of his GP on 12 November.

He agreed the decision to discharge Mr Croucher had not been documented. 

‘It was not documented. That is a fair criticism. We have introduced a system now where decisions are documented.’

The inquest continues.  

Haydon’s death came nine months after his half-sister Leah, 19, vanished on 15 February last year.

The night before, Valentine’s night, Leah left her home in Milton Keynes between 6pm and 7.15pm, telling her mother Claire she was seeing a friend. 

The police found out she never saw the friend and they do not know where she went or who she was with.  

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.   

Timeline of missing Leah Croucher’s disappearance 

Thursday February 14, 2018

8am: Leah, 19, sets off for work as normal to her admin job with finance company  in Milton Keynes. 

5.45pm: Leah walks home from work. The location settings on her Samsung phone were switched off in the Furzton Lake area. 

6pm: Leah arrives home from work. She changes into tracksuit bottoms and a long-sleeved top. She tells her mum she is going to visit a friend.

7.15pm: Leah arrives home again. Her behaviour that night was totally normal, say her parents.

Friday February 15

8am: Leah gets up and leaves for work. . She sets off on her normal route, wearing a black coat, skinny black jeans, black Converse high top shoes and carrying a small black rucksack. Underneath her coat she wears a distinctive grey hoodie.

8.13am: CCTV footage shows her walking along Buzzacott Lane in Furzton. That was the last confirmed sighting of Leah.

8.34am: Leah’s mobile phone is switched off.

9am: Leah fails to arrive at work.

9.30am – 11.15am: Three different witnesses report seeing a girl matching Leah’s description walking by Furzton Lake. She was looking ‘visibly upset’ and crying while talking on the phone. Police have never been able to say definitely that this was Leah. 

6pm: Leah fails to return home. She is reported missing.

Sunday February 17

Police issue a press release saying Leah is missing. 

Tuesday February 19 

Police release the CCTV footage of Leah. They are becoming “increasingly concerned” for her welfare. Her phone is switched off and cannot be traced and her bank account has not been touched.

In the following weeks divers scour Furzton Lake and fingertip searches are carried out.  Leah’s family and friends put posters up appealing for information.

Wednesday September 25 

BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow re-enacts Leah’s disappearance and appeals for information. It shows the clothing Leah was wearing on the day she vanished. 

Viewer contacts the show saying she and remembers walking at the Blue Lagoon lake in Bletchley, Milton Keynes in February and seeing a grey hoodie just near the water, like the one Leah was wearing.

Wednesday October 9 

Police launch a mayor search at the Blue Lagoon. Nothing of any significance is found.

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