Published: 05:00, 30 November 2021
| Updated: 15:18, 30 November 2021
A devastated mum whose son was killed in a car crash said he was turning his life around after a lifetime of drug and alcohol abuse and spells in prison.
Lin Martin was speaking after the death of Jay Bale, 46, who was walking along Luton Road in Chatham when he was struck by a van.
For Lin it brought back harrowing memories of losing her youngest child Damien who took his own life at the age of 26.
This fresh heartbreak is particularly hard for the 61-year-old divorcee because Jay, who started taking drugs when he was a teenager, had been "clean" for the last eight months.
The mother-of-four from Princes Park, Chatham, said:"I want to be honest, everyone knows he was an addict, a scumbag who would rob off you. He would drink up to 10 big bottles of Lambrini(wine) a day and take drugs like Smarties and could be an arrogant, nasty pig.
"But it was like one day he got out of bed and said 'I'm going to change'.
"He would say my mum's my saviour and started to appreciate what I have done for him over the years. He bought me flowers, brought me cups of tea in bed and went to the shops to get my cigarettes.
"At last I thought I had got my boy back, but now he's been snatched away in such a cruel way."
Lin said Jay 's troubled lifestyle had led him to the brink of death on numerous occasions since he was introduced to drugs by his late step-father.
She said:"If somebody said he had overdosed, I might have almost accepted it. I said I would bury him in a bin bag if he went that way.
"When the police told me what happened I wanted to scream. I was so proud of him over the last months - he was a different person.
"After all that hard work, he got taken away, and for what?"
His former girlfriend Mandy Brown said they had rekindled their friendship after 30 years through social media.
"When the police told me what happened I wanted to scream..."
Mum Mandy, 46, said: "We met when we were 15, but split up when we were 17 after going on very different paths. We met at my dad's pub in Gillingham and did everything together.
"He had a very difficult life, but we met up and he was doing so well. He told me he was bored with his life and he wanted to get a job.
"It's very hard to say how I feel. Nobody deserves to go like that."
After her son Damien died in 2007, Lin, recovering from an 18-year abusive relationship, took on his son DJ who was just a baby.
DJ's mum has also passed away and now, aged 15 he still lives with gran at her home in Ryde Close. Lin, also mum to Tanya, 41 and Andrew, 43, is a carer to her sick father.
She said:"I'm so glad I had those last eight months with Jay, I just wish it had been longer."
She now wants to give her son the send-off he deserves. She said: "He was a massive Chelsea fan, so I'm looking at a Chelsea-themed coffin and I'm wearing Chelsea pyjamas.
"He's been a bad boy, but at the end of the day I gave birth to him. I'm his mum."
Jay Bale, of Twydall was pronounced dead at the scene following the crash at 12.40am on Saturday in Luton Road, Chatham.
A 45-year-old man from Spalding Lincolnshire, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and taken into custody.
An additional two men, aged 25 and 35 from Chatham, were later also arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
Martin Very, police spokesman, said: "In regards to the three men arrested following the collision; a 25-year-old man from Chatham and a 45-year-old man from Spalding, Lincolnshire were bailed to return to the police station on 23 December and 26 December respectively.
"A 35-year-old man was released pending further investigation."
Mandy has set up a fundraising page to help the family pay for his funeral.