Time, 15:00hrs Day, Wednesday 11th July 2012
Sitting in my office and just about to call Sharon up from reception to have a coffee, I had just put the kettle on when she called me and directed my attention to the CCTV. On bringing up the camera I was confronted by a number of police cars, a large number of officers on the ground and a couple of ambulances cars.
I have to say that we are fairly used to seeing police activity on the site, and just like when driving and there is an accident on the other side of the road I am more likely to be getting mad at the rubber neckers than the accident that has nothing to do with us, my interest is never really piqued, so I told Sharon to leave the camera on it and come and have a coffee.
10 seconds later she calls me again, and informs me that M, a local Police Community Support Officer is on the phone and wants to speak to me.
Lifting the phone, M asks me if I am aware of the activity in the car park, I say yes. She asks if the area is covered by CCTV. I say yes, but that it is one of the cameras that trawls around automatically unless one of the operators is using it to look at something in particular! She then gives me some times and asks if I can do a quick scan of the system to determine when the vehicle arrived and then to see if there was any activity in or around it.
I have to say at this point my grumpiness kicked in, which she and other officers in the area are well aware of, and I responded in an offhanded way, saying yeah, right after my coffee, maybe. Thinking as I said it that as I had saw a white hat amongst the police on the ground (traffic officers) that they had probably chased the van into the car park and then the driver had had an attack or something, so, way down my list of priorities! But then she gave me the time frame to look at, bearing in mind that this was around 3 pm, she said that the van had probably arrived in the car park around 6 PM the previous evening!
I told M to stay on the phone and brought the CCTV up on my PC and typed in the search command to go to 5.45 the previous night and then scanned forward. At 5.57 the vehicle wasn't there but on its next pass at 5.59 it was there. Running it forward I then saw a male in a white top climbing into the back of the van. I passed this on to M and told her I would burn a CD for her from 17.55 until that time we were speaking, just after 3 pm, so just over 21 hours of footage.
About 5 minutes later M turned up in my office and explained that they were investigating a possible suicide!
Turns out the chap, who was local and in his 40's had had an argument at home the previous night and stormed out of the house. When he hadn't returned by the morning the family called the police as they were worried about him! And clearly they were right to be.
I have no idea what the problem was or what the argument was over, where they having a marital tiff, were they experiencing monetary problems, who knows. I don't know even if their are kids involved! Was he a bad husband, father or partner, a wife beater or child beater? Was he a proud man who snapped when his wife or partner or kids asked him again for something that he just did not have the means to provide?
What I do know is that a man drove into a car park, got out of his cab, got into the back of his van and rigged it so that he would die, alone and I assume, regretting his life and what was happening in it, in a sad and lonely car park.
Life sometimes sucks. I really don't know what else to say on this sad and inglorious end to a life.
Samaritans (UK) site is here if you need to talk
Befrienders' (US) site is here if you need to talk