A trawlerman who was expecting a second child with his fiancée killed himself just days after seeking help for his mental health issues.
Dai Crofts, 24, from Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan, went to hospital on January 7 and 9 this year but was only given oral medication and was sent home.
He then hanged himself on January 10, having suffered for years following the death of his father who Dai found dead after suffering an overdose.
Dai Crofts, 24, of Wick, Vale of Glamorgan, took his own life on January 10 days after seeking help for his mental health issues
Now his mother has paid tribute to her son and spoken out against the mental health system.
Ms Prevett said Dai had a ‘normal and happy’ childhood, partly spent growing up in Snowdonia, gaining a love of the outdoors.
His mental health issues first began to surface after the death of his father after he moved aged 15 to live with him on the Orkney Islands.
There Dai fell in love with the sea and the idea of being a trawlerman.
Ms Prevett said: ‘The day he turned 16 he was away working at sea. But he absolutely thrived off it. He got a real sense of mastery and self-esteem from it.
‘He really, really came into his own. He was earning his own money, he was very proud of being a trawlerman.
‘It’s perceived as a hard job, so I know when he was 16 or 17 if he told anyone he was a trawlerman there was a kind of respect to go along with that and I think he enjoyed that.’
But not long after he moved there, he found his own father dead in bed following an accidental overdose.
Mr Crofts, who was born in Wrexham, started a relationship with Jessica Beard in 2017 and the pair got engaged in June 2018
Ms Prevett said: ‘I think when his dad died that was the start, and around that time was the start of my concern.
‘He was there, he was the one who realised his dad was dead, he kind of found him in bed.
‘I think he was angry that he hadn’t been able to prevent his dad from dying.’
Just months after his father’s death, Dai was involved in a serious crash on the islands that saw him convicted for driving without a licence.
His mother said the two incidents left him unable to cope, and he then returned home to Wick.
A clinical psychologist, Ms Prevett said she then noticed a decline in her son’s mental health. At one point she recalled her son saying he wanted to ‘throw himself overboard’ when out working on the sea.
She said: ‘He would go to the doctors, get some antidepressants or anxiolytic [medication that reduces anxiety], because sometimes he would describe it as anxiety.
‘But when he shifted to describing it as anxiety I think it shifted to more a psychotic type illness.
‘He was getting worried that his colleagues on the boat were thinking he wasn’t pulling his weight and that they were talking about him.
‘And in fact I don’t think they were, it was his anxiety. I was quite glad when he stopped working on the boat and at that time he met Jess.’
Mr Crofts, who was born in Wrexham, started a relationship with Jessica Beard in 2017 and the pair got engaged in June 2018.
Around 10 months after they first met, Mr Croft’s first child Harrison was born, but this prompted an even greater decline in his mental health.
Ms Prevett said: ‘He really took a turn for the worst, every time they visited the hospital for prenatal checks he would think people would be talking about him.
The trawlerman’s mental health issues first began to surface after the death of his father after he moved aged 15 to live with him on the Orkney Islands
‘Gradually he was reporting that he was telepathic and that other people could insert thoughts in his head or broadcast his thoughts and so I knew by then it was psychosis and we persuaded him to see the doctors.
‘Jess had the baby and it all spiralled out of control then. He was really unwell and frightened.
‘He had no insight into how ill he was – he didn’t believe he was ill and that everyone was telepathic and that he needed to “man up” and manage it and learn how to do it himself.
‘In the end because he wasn’t engaging with the crisis team and becoming more unwell, and also at times he had been angry and hostile to people in the family, we were really worried about how he’d be when the baby came home. Then he was sectioned.’
After his son’s birth in April 2018 he was sectioned a month later and spent time under observation at Llandough Hospital before being released.
Ms Prevett said: ‘Although the last thing you want is to see your son or daughter be sectioned, I just had at that time a bit of hope he would get the right treatment and his insight would improve.’
A few months later at Christmas, his symptoms became more intense and on Christmas Day he became increasingly paranoid the neighbours were talking about him and threatening his son.
After his son’s birth in April 2018 he was sectioned a month later and spent time under observation at Llandough Hospital (pictured) before being released
His family tried calling the mental health services but after being unable to get hold of anyone his mother called 999 ‘in desperation’.
Ms Prevett said: ‘By the time the police came out he’d stopped shouting in the street for the neighbours to come out and have it out with him.
‘Dai spoke to the police and told them it was a “hoax call” and that everything was fine.’
The following weeks saw his family desperately try to get him the help he needed.
On January 7 this year, Dai and his fiancée went to Barry Hospital where he was seen by an occupational therapist.
Mr Crofts asked to be prescribed medication but as no doctor was available to see him, that was not possible.
An appointment was scheduled for January 9, where Mr Crofts spent around an hour with qualified GP and psychiatrist Dr Alison McLain.
During the appointment he was prescribed three medications to help deal with depression, anxiety and psychotic symptoms.
The next day Mr Crofts told his partner he was going for a drive ‘to clear his head’ at around 10pm. Ms Beard later became concerned after he was not responding to her text messages.
She tracked his location via his mobile phone to a car park in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Ms Beard arrived, with their child, and found his vehicle but there was no sign of her fiancé.
She later called South Wales Police and officers found his body nearby.
Ms Prevett recalled the moment the police notified her they had found her son.
She said: ‘I’d woken up at 2.30am, and my sleep was really disturbed because we’d had several weeks now of worrying about Dai.
‘I just glanced at my phone to see what time it was and I noticed I had three messages from Jess along the lines of “Dai hasn’t come back, I’m really worried, I’m going to look for him”.
‘She was sending these messages between 10.30pm and 11.30pm. So I’m panicking now and I messaged straight away asking “is he back” or “is he safe”, something like that.
‘As I messaged that I started to get dressed, and at that moment there was a knock at the door.
‘I went downstairs and there was two police officers there. That was probably about 2.45am.
‘Sadly when you’ve had a son with mental health problems and you’ve had two sons who have lost a father and have got in a drunken state, you’ve had police at the door.
‘They came in and I thought they were going to do the routine of checking around the property to make sure Dai isn’t hiding in one of the sheds.
‘But he didn’t. He confirmed I was Dai’s mum and he said “I’m sorry to have to tell you but Dai’s dead”.
‘So that’s how I found out. It was just shock.’
Now Ms Prevett said she hopes her son is remembered for the ‘as a warm, generous, funny, family orientated, son, father, fiancé’.
She said: ‘How I remember him really, now he’s not here, is every time I am by the sea I think about him. Knowing that that was his passion.’
A post-mortem report found no contributing levels of drugs or alcohol in his system and his medical cause of death was recorded as hanging.
Despite family concerns at an inquest in October, coroner Graeme Hughes said Dai received appropriate care from the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and recorded a narrative conclusion.
Following the inquest the family said they were ‘disappointed’ by the verdict. They felt that if the health board’s mental health services planned his care better and provided his medication differently, he would still be alive.
On January 7 this year, Dai and his fiancée went to Barry Hospital (pictured) where he asked to be prescribed medication but as no doctor was available to see him, that was not possible
Dai’s mother and his partner said they requested he be given a depot injection, a slow-release, slow-acting form of an anti-psychotic, to allow the medication to take effect.
Speaking after the hearing, Ms Prevett said: ‘Despite today’s outcome, we still believe failures were made by Cardiff and Vale Health Board throughout Dai’s care.
‘Our belief is that those failures, and a lack of an adequate care and treatment plan, risk assessment and crisis plan played a significant role in Dai’s death in January 2019.
‘We want improvements to be made to mental health services in Wales with a meaningful care and treatment plan and talking therapy offered to every patient.’
Fran Moore, a clinical negligence specialist at law firm Hugh James who represented Mr Croft’s family at the inquest said they were ‘extremely disappointed’ with the conclusion.
She said: ‘Oral medications can take many days or weeks to take effect, but Dai’s paranoia meant he would rarely take any medication for more than ten days.
‘The family feel a depot injection earlier on in his treatment would have bought some time and given Dai the insight he needed to start therapy.’
A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: ‘Cardiff and Vale UHB is deeply saddened by the death of Mr Crofts and we would like to reiterate our sincere condolences to his family and partner.
‘We would welcome a further opportunity to meet with the family and to discuss any outstanding concerns that have not been addressed in the recent inquest.’
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