‘My boys will grow up without a dad’

Cheryl Picken and son Leo Picken.
Cheryl Picken and son Leo Picken.
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A DEVASTATED mum has today spoken of the tragic loss of both fathers of her three beloved children.

Hartlepool woman Cheryl Picken has been left heartbroken following the death of her precious husband Christopher Picken after one relapse with drugs cost him his life.

The 32-year-old honourably battled a historic addiction by having six-monthly ‘chip’ implants to quell the cravings, and built a decent family life and worked hard as a welder.

But just days before he was due to have another implant, he relented, is suspected to have taken a substance, and died.

Cheryl told the Mail that she believes Christopher – who was dad to their 18-month old son Leo Picken and step-dad to her two boys from a previous relationship – could have been saved if someone had intervened in the hours before he passed away.

And as the 33-year-old full-time mum told how little Leo will have to grow up without his dad, she also revealed that her eldest sons, 11-year-old Brandon and eight-year-old Benjamin Catchpole, lost their biological father Craig Catchpole in unexplained circumstances.

Craig, 39, collapsed and died at his home in Wheatley Hill four years ago to the month when Christopher passed away on March 31.

Cheryl said: “It’s just devastating really. Christopher was a dad to all three children, not just Leo. Benjamin used to call him dad, he doted on him, and he’s having to have counselling to help him come to terms with what’s happened.

“It’s just awful because Benjamin says things like, ‘that’s two dads that have gone now’ and he says he just wants to go with them. It makes me feel horrible because there’s nothing I can do.

“I look at little Leo and he doesn’t really know. He walks about kissing photographs of his dad and sticking them up. He used to be all for his dad, more so than me.”

She added: “Brandon and Benjamin lost their dad four years ago. He died at home and a post mortem report came back inconclusive.

“They’ve had to cope with so much.”

Cheryl got together with Christopher, who she knew from their years at Brierton Comprehensive School, when the pair were aged 29, a few months after ending her 10-year relationship with Craig.

The pair were married in a low-key ceremony at Hartlepool Register Office watched by close family members on October 25, 2011, just days before baby Leo arrived on November 2.

The family lived in a newly-built house in Sedgewick Close, West View, in Hartlepool, and Christopher also owned a house which he rented out in Wiltshire Way, Throston.

On the day he died, on March 31, he had cooked his wife and kids a beef dinner and then later that evening at around 11.30pm, he said he was going out to buy some cigarettes from a nearby garage.

That was the last time Cheryl saw him alive.

She later discovered that he had drawn £300 from a cash machine and gone to a house in Bruce Crescent, belonging to town man Alan Purvis, where he was found dead at 2.20pm on Easter Monday.

Cheryl said: “I’ll always think that someone could have done something to help. Why was he left that long when there were others in the house?

“Christopher was a gentleman and he was a really, really nice person with a massive smile. Anyone who knew him would say the same. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body,.”

She added: “That one little slip cost him his life. I hate drugs and I hate druggies. Drugs have robbed me of my husband and my children of their dad.”

Last week Mr Purvis was cleared of stealing personal belongings from Christopher as he lay dead. The 36-year-old pleaded not guilty to the theft and justices at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court ruled that it could not be proved whether or not there had been a pre-arranged agreement between the two parties before Christopher’s death.