A GRIEVING mum has told of hearing her son’s final words after he called her to tell her he was going to take his own life.
Vincent Smith, 27, rang Muriel Turner while he was standing in Station Lane, Hartlepool, to say goodbye and that he was about to end his life.
She quickly set off walking from her home in Willow Grove with her husband, Eddie, but they soon realised time was running out so stopped at the Avenue Road police station.
But 40 minutes after their ordeal began, they were told the devastating news that officers had found Vincent in a secluded area hanging among trees.
They were told by police that even if they had been “stood in the street at the time” they would not have been able to save him.
It was Eddie, 63, who picked up the fateful call at 4.30am on Saturday, September 24, and originally joked with Vincent.
Muriel told the Mail: “Vinny said ‘is that you ma?’ My partner said ‘no, do I sound like a woman?’ Then Vinny just said ‘I love you both, tara. I’m on Station Lane and I’m going to hang myself.
“He replied ‘don’t be so stupid’, but before he could finish the phone cut off.
“It’s the worst thing you could hear as a parent. He had his ups and downs but we didn’t expect it, there were no warning signs.”
Vincent’s short life was fraught with challenges as he tackled disability due to an underdeveloped left leg, had run-ins with the law that led to him spending time in prison and spent three months in a coma after being injected with a potentially lethal cocktail of drugs.
Vincent, who lived in Fordyce Road, is also said to have never got over the loss of the “love of his life”, who he found hanging in the garage of their home seven years ago.
His family admit Vincent, who was brother to Vicky, 30, was “no angel”, but he was “one of ours” and never intended to hurt anyone.
At the time of his death, Vincent was working for the council as a gardener but is believed to have been worried that the police wanted to speak to him and that he could be going back to prison.
Vincent, whose dad is Robert Smith, 57, of Whitburn Street, was released on licence in February after serving half of a sentence he was given in October 2009 for money laundering.
Muriel, 49, said: “He was a lovable rogue, a happy-go-lucky person. Sometimes he could be hard work and mischevious, but he never meant any harm.
“I don’t think he ever got over what happened seven years ago with his partner. It was always at the back of his mind.”
Vincent was sent to a young offenders institution when he was a teenager for taking a car without the owner’s consent before getting out and meeting his girlfriend.
He is said to have had “the happiest three years of his life” while they lived in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, together, but their romance ended in tragedy in May 2004 when Vincent found her dead in the middle of the night.
He moved back to Hartlepool to get his life back in order but was rushed to the University Hospital of Hartlepool in 2006 after someone injected a mixture of heroin, cocaine and antihistamines, known as a speedball, into his right calf when he refused to take the drugs.
For three months his family did not know whether he would pull through, but he went on to make a full recovery before finding himself in trouble with police again.
Muriel added: “Because of his disability, I think he always felt he had something to prove. It meant he got picked on at school and bullied and so he always had to go one step further as he got older.
“You couldn’t stop him doing anything but he fell into the wrong crowd. Yet no matter what he did he had a reason for it and he took the consequences without whinging or anything.
“I think it was because he didn’t want to go back to prison. Maybe he didn’t want his family to go through it all again.”
An inquest has been opened into Vincent’s death at Hartlepol Coroner’s court and has been adjourned to a date to be fixed.