A mum was found dead at her home in Lytham exactly one month after her teenage son died from a fall.
Marshall Metcalfe, described by his sister Holly as a popular boy who loved fishing and football, died after suffering catastrophic internal injuries when he fell from a building in Blackpool town centre on May 7 of last year.
The 17-year-old, who was being treated for schizophrenia, had “retreated into himself” after two spells at a mental health hospital in Heysham and had told a therapist at The Cove that he intended to take his own life.
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One month later, on June 7, Marshall’s mum Jane Ireland, who had been hearing voices, was found dead at her home in Heeley Road, Lytham..
At a joint inquest into the deaths of the mum and son, which started today (November 15) at Blackpool Town Hall, Senior Coroner Alan Wilson heard from Marshall’s sister Holly who was highly critical of the support both her brother and her mum were getting from mental health services.
Miss Ireland, 26, revealed that her mum’s mental health began to deteriorate after she was assaulted by her then partner in 2010 when they family lived in Burnley. The injuries she sustained resulted in her losing part of her nose.
“I was there when it happened,” Miss Ireland told the inquest.
“It had a massive impact on her. She just couldn’t get her head round why he did it to her. I begged her to move away but she began to distance herself from her friends and started to communicate with angels. She relied on his family when he was in prison for what he did to her.
“She had no nose, she had to go through so many operations, and she found it so hard just walking through the streets looking like that.”
In 2015 the family relocated to Lytham with Jane’s mum Patricia Ireland also moving to the Lancashire coast to remain close to her daughter and grandchildren. In late 2017 Marshall’s mental health also went downhill and, aged just 13, he began to make himself sick because he was paranoid about putting on weight.
“He stopped playing with out with his friends and isolated himself,” Miss Ireland said.
“He told me he had tried to hang himself once on the street when he was with his friends.”
In May 2018 Marshall was admitted to The Cove, an in-patient unit in Heysham for young people suffering with mental health conditions. He spent four months in hospital during which time his family said he was simply “drugged up” and not given any therapy.
“He absolutely hated it in there,” Miss Ireland said.
“There was only one person in there who get get down on his level. He shut himself off to everybody; he was really poorly. I was constantly ringing The Cove but would a doctor speak to me? No. “
Miss Ireland confided in staff at The Cove, which is run by Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, about her concerns at Marshall being discharged into her mum’s care, given her own mental health issues, but her worries were “ignored”, she said.
By Christmas 2018 Marshall “wasn’t there at all” and his mum had begun to hear voices telling her to kill herself, Miss Ireland added.
“Mum was very good at hiding her illness but she was really unwell and she wasn’t getting any help. At one point we were driving to somewhere for something to eat and she was just screaming and shouting in the back of the car. She said she was hearing voices telling her she was disgusting and she was screaming ‘leave me alone’.”
In January 2019 Marshall was admitted to hospital after he stopped eating and drinking. Miss Ireland said this was “the worst” she had seen her brother and said it was like he was “not on this planet”.
In February 2019 he was once more admitted to The Cove despite his family’s concerns that the unit had failed to help him in the past.
“They just drugged him up, he didn’t have any therapy, but he was sectioned so it was like we didn’t have a voice,” Miss Ireland said.
“I fought so hard to save them both but they’re not here anymore. The Cove turned him into a zombie.”
On May 7, 2020, police visited the family home in Lytham and revealed a boy matching Marshall’s description had fallen from a building in Blackpool.
A post mortem revealed Marshall died as a result of a a number of injuries including a number of lacerations to his liver, broken ribs, a contusion to his heart, contusions to his lungs and significant blood loss. Although he was still breathing when paramedics were called he went into cardiac arrest on the way to the Royal Preston Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
One of Jane’s friends, Russell Wilding, was with her shortly after she was informed Marshall had died.
“It was absolutely horrendous,” Mr Wilding told the inquest. “She was like a wounded animal. I’ve never seen anyone in that much pain.”
Mr Wilding revealed he had met Jane “by chance” while he was walking past a pub in Lytham.
“I heard her offer some tobacco to a homeless man who was rummaging through a bin and I stopped because I thought that was such a nice act of kindness,” he said.
“I noticed her amazing smile immediately.”
In a statement Patricia Ireland described her daughter Jane, a talented make-up artist and reiki healer, as the “apple of her father Benjamin’s eye”.
“She was so kind and generous and full of life,” Mrs Ireland said.
“When she was horrifically attacked in 2010 that had such a big impact on her and in 2012 Benjamin died which she found so difficult.
“About five years ago she became obsessed with angels and wanted to become an angel. She said she knew where Madeleine McCann was and she was going to rescue her and take her to Australia.”
After Marshall’s death the voices in Jane’s head “became meaner”, her mum revealed, and on June 7, one month after her son died, Jane was found dead in bed at her home.
Mr Wilding, who discovered her body, said in a statement: “I hadn’t been able to get hold of her so I went round. The front door was locked so I went round the back and the back door was wide open. That wasn’t unusual as she would often sit in the garden.
“But as I went up the stairs I started to feel that something was wrong. I miss Jane terribly; she was a wonderful person.”
Post mortem toxicology tests revealed Miss Ireland had fatal levels of methadone in her system which caused her death.
The inquest, which is due to last two weeks, continues tomorrow
If you are struggling or you are worried about a loved one, you can call Samaritans free at any time, from any phone, on 116 123 or email [email protected]. For more advice visit nhs.uk/mental-health or www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus
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