A 44-year-old woman who left a man to die after pulling out of a suicide pact has today been jailed for encouraging him to take his own life.
Natasha Gordon came into contact with Matthew Birkinshaw on an internet forum and within hours of the first message she had arranged to meet him the next day – claiming she would take her own life at the same time as him.
On December 17, 2015, the pair travelled together to Rutland Water where only 31-year-old Matthew, from Walsall, went ahead with the pact.
Gordon, of Paston Ridings, Paston, in Peterborough, was convicted of encouraging Matthew to commit suicide following a trial in December last year. She appeared at Leicester Crown Court today (Friday 19 January) where she was sentenced to four years.
During the hearing Matthew’s mother and brother read out statements detailing the impact his death had had on the family.
In a statement, David Birkinshaw said: “Going through the actual trial itself has been a mix of emotions. It has been heart breaking to hear Matt’s last 24 hours in such detail. What was particularly tough was listening to the details of his final moments. Matt was not perfect but he was one of the kindest and friendliest people I knew, somebody whom people instantly warmed to and to hear that somebody could walk away from him in those moments is extremely hard to take.
“It was also hard to have no right of reply to how Matt was portrayed in court. My brother was a bright, funny, articulate man who was always ready to laugh and joke. He’d helped me move into my first house, held me up on my stag do, been an usher at my wedding and looked after my child. All these things, and many more, make up the Matt that I knew for 31 years.
“His death has left an enormous void in my life that can never be filled.”
During the trial the court hear how Gordon had sent her partner a message informing him of plans to end her life shortly after arriving to meet Matthew at Rutland Water. Her partner subsequently raised the alarm with police and officers were sent to locate her.
However, when officers arrived Gordon failed to tell them why she was there or that she had left Matthew to go through with the pact.
It was only after she was returned home to Peterborough that Gordon disclosed how she’d travelled to the area to commit suicide alongside another man and officers returned to Rutland where Matthew was found.
Detective Constable Michelle Preston, who helped lead the investigation, said: “This is an incredibly tragic case where a young man, who had his whole life ahead of him, was preyed upon by a woman who quickly gained his trust and exploited his vulnerability.
“During our investigation we found Gordon had previously tried to encourage others to take their own life and we also found evidence that she’d attempted to engage two people in conversation about suicide shortly after being located by police in Rutland.
“It is her blatant disregard for Matthew’s welfare that day that makes this tragic case even more distressing for all involved.
“I know I speak as not only the investigating officer, but on behalf of the family, when I urge anyone who may be in crisis to reach out to someone – if that isn’t a friend or a family member, there are specialist organisations who can provide the support or counsel you might need at that moment in time.”
Support services are available through a number of organisations, including:
National charity Samaritans – by calling 116123 or visiting https://www.samaritans.org
PAPYRUS – prevention of young suicide – by calling 0800 068 4141 or visiting ttps://www.papyrus-uk.org
SOBS (Survivors of bereavement by suicide) – by visiting https://uksobs.org