Family’s tragedy as much-loved son found dead in his bed a day after 19th birthday

Robbie Smith, aged 18, on a family day out in York.
Robbie Smith, aged 18, on a family day out in York.

A FAMILY have spoken of their devastation after the tragic death of their son who was was found dead in his home just a day after celebrating his 19th birthday.

Artist and musician Robbie Smith – a law and art student at Hartlepool Sixth Form College – died in his bedroom at his home in Wharton Terrace, Hartlepool.

Robbie Smith, aged 16.

Robbie Smith, aged 16.

The teenager had celebrated his birthday with his dad, Bob Smith, the night before, with the pair enjoying a pizza and a couple of drinks.

But the following afternoon former joiner Bob, 51, returned home to find his son had died in his bed.

A post mortem examination has not been able to establish the cause of Robbie’s tragic death, so some of his organs have been sent to specialists in London and Newcastle to try to give his grief-stricken family some answers.

His devastated mum, Jeanette Smith, 49, a civil servant who lives in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with Robbie’s 26-year-old sister Valerie, a pharmacy assistant, said: “Robbie was beautiful inside and out.

“He was a talented artist and an amazing musician.

“I am so proud of what he achieved. He had a heart of gold and he was loved by so many people, both in Hartlepool and in Wales.

“Despite the miles between us we had a very strong relationship. I will miss him so much.”

Emotional Bob, who separated from Jeanette 10 years ago, added: “He was a happy-go-lucky lad and he loved life. He had an open mind and was a peace lover, he hated any violence.

“As well as his art and music he was interested in politics, astrology, chemistry and philosophy – all sorts of subjects which I helped to school him in.

“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, I keep waiting for him to walk back through the door and say ‘it’s all a false alarm dad’.

“I just want him back. I don’t understand it.

“I’ve had his friends knocking on the door crying, they can’t believe it.

“I can’t believe it, I don’t think I’ll ever get over this.”

Bob said his son had suffered with epilepsy in the past but described him as being fit and healthy and “as strong as a bull”, walking to college every single day whatever the weather.

He said they enjoyed Robbie’s quiet birthday celebration together on Thursday, March 13, with Bob getting up the following morning to help his parents Bobby and Joyce, of Powlett Road, with their shopping.

“I left the house around 9am and shouted up the stairs ‘come on it’s time to get up’,” he said.

“Robbie shouted back down to me ‘ok dad’, and then I left.”

Bob called back briefly around 10am to drop off his own groceries and heard Robbie moving around upstairs and calling “I’m getting up”.

But when Bob returned home around 6pm he said the house was in darkness and was completely silent, and he felt something was wrong.

He said: “There was silence through the house and Robbie hadn’t put the shopping away which he normally would have done.

“Something told me I had to go upstairs. I went to his bedroom, put the lights on and he was face down on his bed.

“I turned him over and I knew he was gone.”

Bob – who has been in a relationship with partner Brenda Lowery, 47, for seven years – called for an ambulance and paramedics tried to resuscitate his beloved son – a former Brougham Primary School and Dyke House College of Technology pupil – but their efforts were in vain.

The funeral of Robbie, who was also an uncle to Valerie’s daughter Lilly-May Miles, aged two, will be held at St Oswald’s Church, in Brougham Terrace, Hartlepool, at 1.30pm on Wednesday, before burial at Stranton Grange Cemetery.