Published: 11:42, 11 July 2020
| Updated: 11:55, 11 July 2020
A grieving father whose son died at a park in Tunbridge Wells has described the devastation he feels knowing his son asked police to pick him up, hours before he took his own life.
Matthew Mackell, a Year 12 student from Skinners' Kent Academy, died in the early hours of May 7 in Dunorlan Park.
Soon after, Matthew's father Michael Bond found out his son had made a phone call to Kent Police as a final plea for help.
Now an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has shared further details with Mr Bond about his son's call.
They have revealed that at 10.18pm, on May 6, the 17-year-old made an abandoned call to police. He said: “Can you send someone to pick me up, I’m about to kill myself.”
The call handler made attempts to call him back and two calls were answered by Matthew. On the first one, he said he was "okay", but on the second he hung up.
At 10.23pm, police located Matthew's calls as being made from the "area of Dunorlan Park".
At 10.42pm, a member of staff managed to speak to Matthew "briefly" before the teenager "cleared the line". Five minutes later, the staff member upgraded the incident to "immediate", updated Matthew's location to Dunorlan Park and "transferred it back to dispatch".
But, at 10.54pm, it was downgraded to "high" and the reason for doing so was that "our only available action is to continue contacting the phone for updates and information to identify the caller."
At 11.26pm, a police officer "asked if there were any patrol free for a tour of the area" and requested if the ambulance service had received any calls from Matthew's number, which "came back negative".
Between 11.39pm and 2.41am, three attempts were made to contact Matthew, but there was no answer.
During that time, there was also an attempt to deploy a police officer but they, too, did not answer.
According to the IOPC's information, there was no police search of Dunorlan Park completed in an attempt to find Matthew.
The mobile phone that was later found with the teenager was discovered to have been the one used to make the calls to Kent Police.
The investigation by the IOPC follows a mandatory referral by the force, which will look into how staff handled calls with Matthew the evening before his body was found.
An IOPC spokesman said: “Following the non-suspicious death of Matthew Mackell on May 7, a Kent police officer and two members of Kent police staff are being investigated, as there is an indication they may have breached police standards of professional behaviour.
“We are examining their actions and decisions relating to their contact with Matthew, and whether these actions were in line with national and local policy.
“The investigation is in its initial stages and this development does not mean that disciplinary action will necessarily follow.”
Hundreds of floral tributes and messages were left by Matthew's friends and family at Dunorlan Park after his death.
Matthew lived with his dad and two brothers, Christopher, 18, and Daniel, 13, at their home in Sandhurst Road.
After hearing further details surrounding his son's last moments, Mr Bond said the investigation had revealed further heartache.
He added: "The funeral was a lovely day but I feel it has been tarnished by this investigation.
"I found out when I was calling him that night, his phone was just ringing in his pocket and he was already gone. He was just left there by himself and it really hurts me to know that.
"When I say it was a lovely day, I mean the only happiness I got was knowing that he's not away from me any more. He's been away from me for seven weeks. He's been in a chapel in Sevenoaks and that day we got him back, we had a service with him, we lowered him into the ground and we let white doves fly into the sky. It's nice that I can come and sit with him now. Knowing he is here with me, safe in the ground is a comfort.
"He walked away from me at 9.30pm that night and now he is finally back with me."
Matthew was laid to rest at the Kent and Sussex Crematorium in Tunbridge Wells on June 22. A bench has been placed next to his grave stone and Mr Bond hopes it can soon be joined by a memorial tree.
He added: "The crematorium actually cut a tree down for Matty to rest here. Where I wanted him buried they weren't allowed to actually do it.
"Then I said about this plot next to the tree but it didn't look all that healthy. They said if we cut the tree down, you can have this plot and you can replace the tree with one for Matthew. So that's what we decided to do and now we have a bench here for him too, so the tree will go next to that."
A pink cherry blossom will be planted to represent one of Matthew's favourite colours.
This will be paid for with money raised through a Just Giving page, which reached a staggering £10,000 just days after being set up.
It will also fund a red oak tree due to be planted in Dunorlan Park in November.
Mr Bond is encouraging young people who may be struggling to seek help from Papyrus.
For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.
More by this authorLiane Castle
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