The grieving widow of a 31-year-old found dead at a city centre park has paid tribute to ‘the best daddy’.
Joe Walker, who had recently become a dad, was discovered by a dog walker having taken his own life at Central Forest Park, having had a history of mental illness.
An inquest heard Joe, of Abbey Hulton, had sought the care of mental health service the Greenfields Centre via telephone, on June 7, expressing suicidal thoughts.
He was diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder and social phobia, which had caused him to experience an ’emotional rollercoaster’ in the days leading up to his death.
North Staffordshire Coroners’ Court was told the mental health care team was sent out to talk to him on June 27, at his home with wife Kelly, where it was determined that Joe did not want to be admitted to hospital on that occasion. Instead he was to receive treatment though the home treatment team.
However Kelly says Joe did want to be admitted to Harplands hospital. He was due to visited by the treatment team on July 13, 2017 but had gone missing.
Kelly, a paint spotter at the Emma Bridgewater Factory in Hanley, said: “I was due to meet Joe and I missed a call from him at around 12.14pm. I called him back repeatedly but there was no reply. I went back to the house and noticed he had left his phone and headphones which was out of character. He had also locked the dog away and made sure the dog was safe.
“Joe had drawn out £200 from the bank so I rang Harplands hospital and they advised me to report Joe as missing. I was concerned for Joe as his mental health was unstable.
“He gave no indication that morning that he was going to disappear. Joe had been a drug user from a young age but had been clean since around 2009 and he was not known to have relapsed while married to me since 2015.”
Joe was found by a female dog walker at around 7am on the July 14. His son was just six months old at the time.
Kelly added: “He wanted to be in hospital and he was constantly telling the Greenfields home team to put him in hospital. He put himself in Harplands in February 2017 and he wanted to be there again because that was where he felt safe.
“He did want to be with his family, but he knew he needed to be in there to get better because of his mental health problems and he wanted to tackle them. He wanted to do it in the home but he knew he needed to get better for his new baby and being home was not right.
“He was having good and bad days, but more bad than good.”
Community psychiatric nurse Peter Milgate visited Joe and Kelly at their home on June 27. He said: “We would have explored hospital treatment but Joe and his wife said that wasn’t necessary. We decided on the home treatment team at that level which Joe accepted.
“He had assessed how taking his own life would affect his family, he demonstrated interest in improving his life and expressed his gratitude for the support from the church and his strong relationship with this wife.”
Assistant coroner David James recorded a conclusion of suicide, but acknowledged that there were short comings in his care management.
He said: “He died as a result of suicide against a background of mental illness. I’ve considered very carefully the short comings by the North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust in terms of documentation and risk assessment.
“I don’t feel in this instance it necessary to make further findings, but I do say to the Trust I hope you are mindful of this.
“I’d like to express my deepest condolences to the family.”
Speaking after the inquest Kelly said Joe was the ‘best daddy’ to their son. She said: “My husband, Joe, was deeply loved and will be forever missed. He was the best daddy to our son and an irreplaceable and forever loved son to his parents.
“He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. I miss Joe everyday and I am grateful to the coroner for taking the time to investigate his death.”
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