Mum tells of heartache after 'carbon copy' of son's death

Sheila Preston, whose son Leo Jacobs died in William White Place in November 2016

Sheila Preston, whose son Leo Jacobs died in William White Place in November 2016 - Credit: Archant

A bereaved mother has described a heartbreaking feeling of déjà vu after hearing of a vulnerable man dying in the same circumstances as her own son - in the same block of city flats.

Sheila Preston's son Leo Jacobs died from a drug overdose in his flat in William White Place, in Norwich in November 2016.

The 39-year-old, who suffered with paranoid schizophrenia, had been seeking care from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust at the time and had been preyed upon by drug dealers.

Campaign to Save Mental Health Services demonstrating at Hellesdon Hospital. Sheila Preston who lost

Campaign to Save Mental Health Services demonstrating at Hellesdon Hospital. Sheila Preston who lost her son Leo Jacobs. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Five years later, to the month, Faisal Mohammed Al-Dossary was found dead in the same building, under nearly identical circumstances.

Mr Al-Dossary, known to loved ones as Rowan, was also a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, also died a drug-related death and was just five years Mr Jacobs' junior when he died. 

Following the inquest into the 34-year-old's death, Mrs Preston, 77, described how reading reports had brought all of her pain flooding back.

Leo Jacobs was found dead at his Norwich flat in November 2016 from a suspected accidental overdose.

Leo Jacobs was found dead at his Norwich flat in November 2016 from a suspected accidental overdose. His mother Shelia Preston has spoken out about his case. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

She said: "What happened was exactly what happened to my Leo in the exact same place. It was a carbon copy.

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"Hearing about this just brought things back for me straight away. 

"To see the same thing that happened to Leo happening to another young man is heartbreaking and just tells me that it could have been prevented."

The inquest heard that Mr Al-Dossary had been "cuckooed", by drug dealers who took over his flat, with his family expressing their concerns about the level of mental health support he received.

His inquest heard that an internal investigation from NSFT had found "no evidence of bad practice" during his treatment.

But Mrs Preston, from Mendham, near the Norfolk-Suffolk border, urged the family to not suffer in silence beyond the hearing.

The former teacher has been a staunch campaigner for mental health improvements for 20 years and served as a governor for NSFT for nine years. 

Faisal Mohammed Al-Dossary 

The family of Rowan have questioned the decision to discharge him back to the flat and community support - Credit: Submitted

She said: "My advice to the young man's family would be this: do not let this go.

"They need to find out everything they can about how their son and brother died and do not accept that his death was unavoidable.

"Join the campaign and make your voices heard."

William White Place

William White Place is made up of 60 flats - Credit: Archant

William White House is a block of 60 flats in Gas Hill in Norwich and is run by Orbit Housing.

Mrs Preston said the company was supportive of her following her son's death.

But she was critical of the support on offer to vulnerable people like her son from NSFT.

She added: "The trust has the majority of its community services in the city, which is where drug dealers gravitate to.

"In the last few years of his life, Leo decided he did not want his family involved in his care and that was effectively signing his own death warrant.

"I still to this day feel crippling guilt that I was not able to put him up myself and I will never stop feeling guilty for that."

Following Mr Al-Dossary's inquest, the campaign group Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk - which is fighting for improved services - put out a statement.

A spokesman said: “How many more of our sons die before anyone notices the patterns, whistle-blows, and takes preventative action?

“How can two young men, with schizophrenia, live in fear of drug dealers, be failed by mental health services, and die in almost the same circumstances, in the same block of flats, five years apart?”

A spokesman for Orbit Housing said: “We work closely with all agencies to support our vulnerable customers. We also offer customers access to our mental health support service, Breathing Space, which is delivered by mental health charity, MIND.

“Launched in 2017, Breathing Space is a free confidential service which offers support and guidance by phone, text, or digitally.

"It is for any customers who may be experiencing difficulties with their mental health and aims to prevent problems occurring or worsening by tackling the causes, rather than dealing with the consequences.

"Customers can self-refer or consent to being referred to the programme by Orbit, and we would urge any of our customers who are struggling with their mental health to use it.”