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Dean - Interview 36

Age at interview: 66
Brief Outline: Dean's son, Andrew, was killed in 2006. He was hit by a car which was driven by a man who was not insured and who was driving illegally. Dean felt shocked and devastated. He has found help via friends, family, RoadPeace, the Spirualist Church and others.
Background: Dean is a Principal Care Officer (Retired). He is married and has 3 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: Indian

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On Wednesday 24th May 2006 Dean received a call from the police. He was told that his son, Andrew their only son, had been hit by a car. Andrew was 21 years old. The police took Dean to the hospital, where he found out that Andrew had died. This was a terrible shock. Andrew had graduated with a first class honours degree and was about to go to Harvard to continue his studies to become a lawyer. He was a wonderful son and had a close relationship with his parents, Dean and Sarjit. His death was a devastating blow to them both. At the hospital a local Hindu Priest gave Andrew last rites, and then Dean and Sarjit sat with Andrew for a while before going home.
 
At home Dean and Sarjit were met by family and friends, who were very supportive. After about a week a Police family liaison officer also offered support. Help was also offered by Dean’s GP, by the local MP and by the Hindu Council of the UK. RoadPeace, a UK Charity, also offered support in many ways.
 
After Dean had collected the death certificate Andrew’s body was brought home. The family had a Hindu ceremony at home and then went on to the crematorium for final prayers and offerings and other rites. The ceremony was conducted by a local Hindu priest. Over 400 people attended the local crematorium, and many people paid tribute to Andrew. Andrew’s ashes were brought home. One day Dean hopes to scatter them in the sea, as is Hindu tradition.
 
Dean and Sarjit discovered that Andrew had been hit by a car when he was waiting for a bus, near to their home. The driver of the car was driving illegally and the car was not insured for him to drive. Dean and Sarjit have erected a bus shelter in the place where Andrew died. On both sides of the shelter there are plaques in memory of Andrew.
 
The inquest was held about six months after Andrew’s death. At the inquest Dean was not given the opportunity to question the driver of the car that killed Andrew. Dean’s barrister was not allowed to question the driver either. The verdict was one of “accidental death” ,which Dean finds hard to accept. Dean would have preferred a verdict of “death by dangerous driving”. However, this was not given, partly because there were no witnesses who were willing to make a statement.
 
After the inquest the matter was referred to the magistrate’s court. The driver was convicted of careless driving, fined £250 for court costs, and sentenced to 16 months Community Service.
 
The shock of Andrew’s death affected Dean’s health. He had a heart problem which led to a triple bi-pass operation. Dean is also sure that Andrew’s death affected his wife’s health. Sarjit had a brain haemorrhage/stroke soon after Andrew died, and has not fully recovered.
 
The sense of shock continued until after Andrew’s funeral. Dean felt angry that his son had been taken away so suddenly for no apparent reason. Now Dean and Sarjit feel that their lives are empty. At times they feel very lonely and depressed. They miss Andrew very much indeed. Dean and Sarjit have found some comfort by attending a Spiritualist Church. They have received messages from Andrew via a number of mediums. Dean believes in reincarnation, which is also a comfort.
 
Dean was interviewed in 2009.
 

Dean was deeply shocked when the police called him to tell him that his son had been in an...

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It was on Wednesday 24th May 2006, approximately 2.45 in the afternoon, I was called by the police informing me that my son was in a car accident. They arranged to collect me from the place I work, and take me to the hospital where my son was taken. We got there about 4.45, 5 o’clock thereabout because the traffic was awful, and I was asked to wait in the waiting room while the doctors, one of the doctors come out to see me… It was at that point in time I understood my son had passed away. It was one of a severe shock.
 
Of course.
 
Denial, could not comprehend what had happened.
 
Who told you? Was it the doctor?
 
The registrar in the hospital told me that they’d tried their best but they could not revive him. The awful thing about it, that my son that morning went to university, he had already gained a first class honours degree in law, and he was about to graduate in his Masters, and awaiting a place at Harvard University. He was a young man who spent all his time at home studying. Mum was best friend he’s ever had. Parties, socialising was not his scene, but that particular day he had agreed to meet some friends up in London after the morning paper, to go out and see a movie, and to have a meal out. The very first time in five or six years that he would have planned to go out and spend an evening out, and saying to Mum that “Mum you don’t mind if I get back about ten, ten thirty? Could you all pick me up from the station?” Mum agreed to that.
 
It was a normal day, it was like anything else, I dropped my wife, Sarjit and Andrew at the station, saw them off and I went into work. And for some unknown reason I didn’t feel well that day. I don’t know whether it’s a premonition, or it was feeling, I felt awful. My wife who was also in a meeting that particular day with the department of health, she couldn’t concentrate on the meeting, she had an awful feeling, a tummy feeling, a numbness of her leg, her stomach was churning over, and she could not explain. I’m sorry it’s a bit disjointed but…
 
It’s alright.
 
I was at the hospital. I was taken there by the police, and a good friend of mine, and I was asked to wait while they brought Andrew out. The last, the first thing I saw was my son lying there lifeless.
 
Were you on your own?
 
I was on my own at the time.
 
My wife was going to come in later because some friends of mine, some doctors who I was working with, they decided to pick her up and fetch her in to the hospital.
 
Were you allowed to stay with your son for a while?
 
I was allowed to stay with my son. He was battered and bruised. Lifeless. A young man, who had such fun and joy and someone to talk to and love, and joking. Just lying there in a mortuary.
 
Had he been hit by a car?
 
He was hit by a car, he was hit, four houses away from where we were living, at the bus stop here. It was about 2.45 in the afternoon, apparently these three young fellows in a car, unlicensed and uninsured, nothing at all they had, came speeding down the road, but as far as they were concerned they were doing 30 miles an hour, the car hit Andrew, flipped over and landed on its, upside down. I’m surprised with the devastation it caused, that they themselves did not die in the accident.
 
They were lucky. They got out and walked free except for the driver who landed up in hospital, with a fractured leg only. The hospital cared for him obviously, they gave all the attention for us, we felt a great loss. 
 
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The coroner returned a verdict of 'accidental death'. Dean would have preferred a verdict of ...

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How long did you have to wait for the inquest after your son’s death?
 
It would have been at least six months, I would say six months.
 
Six months?
 
Yes, easily. Before the inquest and it was an inquest in a coroner’s court and the outcome of it was accidental death. And it was then referred to the magistrate’s court.
 
Can you describe what happened at the inquest?
 
Yes at the inquest we had, I had a barrister present, to represent me on behalf of my son, and the barrister was recommended to us from RoadPeace, again, that was a tremendous support. I didn’t get any chance, I didn’t have a chance to say anything at all, it was basically the coroner, the police, and my barrister just asked a few questions, but he was not permitted to interrogate or the driver of the vehicle. He’s pleaded silence and to remain silent, “No comment, no comment, no comment,” that was all he said, all the way through.
 
The driver?
 
The driver. All he had to say was, “No comment, no comment, no comment.” My son chose law as a profession. A profession which he very much believed, and strongly believed, but he was never given a day in court, I was not given the opportunity, nor my barrister to question this young man, which I find very, very hard.
 
What verdict would you have liked?
 
Death by dangerous driving because the devastation, with no license, no insurance, nothing at all, and these guys were literally speeding down the road. But sadly on the particular day there were no witnesses, no-one come forward. The only person that said that she saw something did, at the end of the day decided that “Well, I can’t remember.” And that’s it, so there was no statement.
 
Did the police keep you up to date with what was going on?
 
Yes, a part of it, they came home on several occasions and kept us informed of what’s going to happen, with the inquest, the forthcoming inquest that was planned.
 
Did they tell you what was going to happen at the inquest?
 
Well at home yes, they told me that the maximum this guy could get up to 14 years. We got to the Courts, the coroners court and the magistrate. Things have changed because of technicality. The step-father owner of the car told the police under caution that he did not give him permission, and changed his tune on legal advice and would not sign a witness statement. That way the police could not bring about a charge for aggravated vehicle taking, causing death, so he was charged with careless driving.
 
But to start with he had told the police that he had not given permission, and then he changed his mind?
 
Absolutely, on advice from his solicitors. Yes.
 
Did you have to make an impact statement at that stage, or later in the court?
 
We made an impact statement later, for the, for the magistrate.
 
Not for the inquest.
 
Not for the inquest because we were not given the opportunity to say anything at the inquest.
 
How long did the inquest take?
 
The inquest took the most of about an hour, two hours if that.
 
How did you feel about the inqu
 
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The CPS prosecutor read Dean's Victim Personal Statement to the magistrate. Dean had written...

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You said that you made an impact statement for, this is for the, for the coroner’s court or for the…?
 
No, it’s for the magistrate’s court. We were not given the opportunity to, to read an impact statement at the coroner’s court so in the magistrate’s court I made an impact statement.
 
And that was read by the magistrate?
 
It, yes, it was read by CPS, to the, to the magistrate, and in which I mentioned the background of my son, where he came from, you know the sacrifice we’ve made in life for him, giving him a private education, he had so much going for him, he had a great future ahead of him, a young man, as I said earlier, to gain a LLB honours in law, about to complete his Masters, had a place awaiting for him to Harvard to go on to do his PhD, he was minding his own business, sitting innocently waiting for a bus, when these three drivers, unlicensed drivers, insure, no insurance whatsoever, came along, hit him and killed him. Take him away. He never made it for the hospital, where they, it was suggested he was airlifted to, he wasn’t. When I saw him in, in, in the mortuary he had broken, shattered bones, swollen body, and I can’t describe.
 
How has it impacted on your lives, you said it affected you physically.
 
Yes, it has affected us physically in the sense that after his death I suffered a heart, a heart problem, resulting in a triple heart bypass, a week later I came home from hospital my wife became ill, she had a stroke, she had a brain haemorrhage, she herself landed up in hospital for three and a half weeks in intensive care. This, his death, has had a knock on effect on us. These guys, the perpetrators are free to walk.
 
As a matter of fact when he came on to the coroner’s court he stood there with his friends and giving his friend’s high fives. You know for us we had to accept all this, he’s free to walk, he’s there to say hello to his Mum and Dad, and live another day. We can’t, we don’t have anyone. We can’t say, “Hello son, how are you?” Or he’d come and say, “Hi, Mum. I love you Mum.” Stroking his Mum’s hair, these are the things we miss. The only thing we have of him is pictures around the place.
 
Yes. And was that all in your impact statement?
 
It was all in my impact statement. I touched on the fact that at sixteen he, he donated money to his Save the Children fund, the charity, a charity which my wife and I have now increased a huge amount of money, and will continue his memory. I vow that I wanted to do something for, in memory of my son, we are members of RoadPeace, we’ve also decided to contribute towards the local college that, where he went to private, to provide a small bursar to the students, with the help of friends and neighbours, and relatives and my, my MP. And the former Mayor of London, we were able to get a bus shelter and a plaque erected in his memory, at the exact spot where he died. 
 
 

After Dean’s son, Andrew, was hit by a car and died, a member of RoadPeace called Dean and...

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But then I found a lot of support from RoadPeace. RoadPeace was there from day one. It’s a remarkable organisation. The founder of RoadPeace was on the phone to me for over an hour, and she gave me so much support, and strength, and offered me advice, because I didn’t know where to turn, the police liaison officer just gave me a booklet and said, “Look in there you’ll find any organisation, these are the people if you wish to contact.” There was not a question of sitting down and going through it, this is what we wanted, the support from them to guide us through this thing. We just had to find our way through, and I found that RoadPeace was there for us.
 
Did they contact you initially?
 
Yes, RoadPeace contacted me; I didn’t contact them at all?
 
So how did they find you?
 
They must have read the story in the newspaper because the, the whole thing was in the local paper and so forth, and I was so pleased when she rang me.
 
What sort of advice did she give you?
 
She said, “I will be there to give you any support you want.” She arranged to come down, and they came, we met at home here, and we sat and we talked through various things, what line of action I should take, and the support, where to go and get the support; what help; and she was literally there 24'7 for me. 
 

Dean has found comfort in a Spiritualist Church whilst retaining his Hindu beliefs. Through...

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I’ve also had tremendous support too from the Spiritualist Church. I’ve turned to Spiritualism in a sense because, not that I have given up my Hindu faith, but Spiritualism because I feel both work hand in hand. Both believe in the life after death, and life continues.
 
Sorry I didn’t catch that. You said…?
 
That both, both religions to some extent, well…
 
Yes.
 
The Spiritualism is not a religion, it’s just a way of life, but like Hinduism they both believe in after life.
 
And I was, through, a friend recommended me to this church. I went to this Spiritualist Church, the local Spiritualist Church, where I met with mediums from different areas of, who knew nothing about us. And I’ve had enough confirmation, and validation about Andrew, and life after death. Our son came back through this medium giving us messages, that no-one, no-one knew anything about. That unless they’d read in the national press they would have read something, but not the intimate personal details about the family life, how in the family, what we had planned to do, and all the rest of it. This was the sort of thing that I had confirmation. I’m a strong believer now; I find a lot of faith in it. I find it helped me immensely through this course of grief and loss and bereavement. And my wife in fact has had numerous messages from our son by going there. So, together they have been very supportive.
 
So what actually happens when you go to a Spiritualist Church?
 
It’s like a normal church service. You go there and you, you participate in and a few hymns and so forth, and then you go into mediation, you know you meditate for about a few minutes, then there is a reading from one of the church members, or someone. And they have visiting mediums, from different parts of the country that visits; it’s not the same medium all the time. And that is when the medium themselves stand up and give you , get messages. And the first message we had was from this lady who now became a very close friend of Sarjit and myself, and she visits us, she comes out of her way from Canterbury, or wherever she lives, to see us from time to time. And the first time she came, she foresee, she saw the whole accident what took place. She described Andrew to the letter, T, she saw this car, she saw flowers, she saw candles, she saw pictures, and she described his plans for the future, what he had in mind. And so much, she has said, she has never been to our house, she wouldn’t have see any, but she described everything, more or less to what is what we have here.
 
That was during the church service?
 
Absolutely, during the church service.
 
Is that just to you individually? Or to the whole congregation?
 
No the whole congregation was listening to it, but we received this message, other people had messages. But this was a message to us.
 
So she goes to each person in turn?
 
Yes, yes. And we must have had a good five to ten minutes of this reading, and I came back and I described this to my family. And it was amazing, at least 95% of what’s been said. I find people from all walks of life, and different faith goes to it, at this church. Because you find solace, it’s comforting.
 
Able to, to know that yes there’s messages from the spirits world that your loved one is there.
 
And one last message we had from Andrew was, “Mum and Dad please move on with your life. My room is like a shrine, my clothes are still there, please give it away. I’m okay, I’m happy.” You know. 
 

The family had a Hindu ceremony at home, conducted by a local Hindu priest, followed by a service...

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He’s gone. Our life is empty now, completely empty. Added to that, the funeral was arranged a week later, and it was packed. Well over four to five hundred people attended, almost four to five hundred people were at the funeral. Colleagues, fellow students, and the service went on for over an hour and a half, so much so that they, the manager at the local crematorium had to ask us if we could hurry on, but there were so many things that people wanted to pay tribute to. There were hundreds and hundreds of cards, and letters, from various people, members of parliament, people who I knew, very good friend who’s sadly passed away, was also a Lord, the House of Lords, who knew the family, who knew us very well.
 
So the funeral was at the local crematorium?
 
Local crematorium indeed.
 
Was it a Hindu [ceremony]?
 
Yes, it was a Hindu ceremony. The service initially took place at home, we brought the body home here, or Andrew came home and we had a Hindu service in this room here. And from here we went onto the crematorium, to make the final prayer and offering and the rites to be carried out.
 
 
Can you say a little bit more about a Hindu ceremony?
 
Sure, yes indeed. Went back to the service at home, the Hindu service at home here. The coffin came in and it was open, and members of the family gather around to pay their respect by offering, throwing incense and rose petals and flowers, and I as the father, parent, my wife and I, Sarjit and I, that is, we had to place gold coins, not gold coins, pieces of gold, I think it was seven pieces of gold, seven coins, and, there is,
 
Did you say incense?
 
Incense, yes indeed, incense, and there is a particular plant, I can’t remember the name of it, that we had to place on his lips, and offering the final sips of water, pouring sips of water on his lips, and milk.
 
And did you say a garland?
 
And garlands as well, yes. And members of the family are allowed to place garlands around him. 
 
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After Andrew died the liaison officer was on the telephone to Dean but he did not visit the house...

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Did a Police Liaison Officer come?
 
The Police Liaison Officer came to see me about a week to ten days later. I was very disappointed with the Police Liaison Officer. He promised to call, he promised me things, and when, each time I ring he wasn’t there, then he said to me, “Look I was very busy, I’m sorry I can’t, I’ll get back to you.” And I, in fact we had a meeting about it at home, and I said to him, “You must put yourself in my position, that we are going through trauma, for you guys it’s just an ordinary job, it’s just another accident, another casualty. But  for us it’s our only son, our only child.”
 
You didn’t see him for a week?
 
I didn’t see him for almost a week. Almost. He was on the telephone to me, but certainly not face to face contact.
 
That angered me immensely. In the end, he, he became very supportive, he realised how we were feeling, and more so, with pressure too from his officers as well, so I saw the officer, yes the police liaison officer.