A heartbroken mother has told how she discovered that her only daughter was dead via Facebook – after police failed to tell her in time.
Cheryl Jones, 49, was horrified to see that friends of former model Karla James had put up messages on the social networking site saying: ‘RIP Karla.’
Her mother immediately rang the 30-year-old on her mobile phone – and it was answered by a police officer at the scene.
Shocked Cheryl, of Tredegar, South Wales, almost collapsed when the police officer told her: “Sorry but an officer will be around to see you shortly.’
Police called an hour later to confirm the tragic news that Karla had died three hours earlier less than a mile from her mother’s home.
Senior police chiefs were today investigating a formal complaint from Cheryl and her MP over the delay.
Mother-of-three Cheryl said: ‘My daughter was found dead and I only found out through Facebook.
‘I was Karla’s mother, her next of kin, the police should have come to see me straight away.’
Tests are being carried out to discover what killed mother-of-one Karla, an aspiring model in her teens, who suffered from heart problems in her youth.
Karla lived in a flat in less than a mile away from her mother, who had been at home on the night of the tragedy.
Cheryl told how Karla was at home when her nephew Barry Llewellyn, 37, called to say he had read on Facebook that Karla had died.
She said: ‘I kept asking my nephew what had happened but he didn’t want to tell me.
‘I couldn’t understand how complete strangers could see she was dead by looking at Facebook.
‘But I only lived down the road and I didn’t know my own daughter was dead.
‘When I rang her mobile the police said they would be around to see me straight away.’
Karla was pronounced dead at 8.17pm on July 23 – and police finally arrived at Cheryl’s home at 11.38pm that night to confirm her death.
Cheryl said: ‘I was hysterical. I had only talked to her hours before about her dog Scooby.
‘She said she loved me before she put the phone down – she always did.
‘She was the most beautiful girl inside and out and had a childlike innocence. She was a real chatterbox and loved people.’
Karla was pursuing a modelling career but became pregnant when she was 19.
Cheryl said: ‘She was a wonderful mother to her daughter Tyla who is broken-hearted.
‘She can’t believe she will never see her mum again.’
Cheryl has filed an official complaint to the professional standards department of Gwent Police and is being backed by her MP Nick Smith.
She is demanding to know why there was a delay in informing her that Karla had died.
She said: ‘I still don’t know why my daughter died and I am waiting to find out.
‘What makes me so angry is the appalling way I was treated by the police.
‘I will never get over losing my beautiful daughter or the way I found out about her death.’
An inquest has been opened and adjourned while toxicology tests are carried out on Karla after a post mortem examination.
MP Nick Smith said: ‘Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. I can only imagine the grief and anguish Karla James’ mother and family is suffering.
‘It must have been a great shock to hear news of her death on Facebook.
‘I have asked the police to set out the action they took following Karla’s death and I sent this account to Mrs Jones.
‘I remain ready to help the family in any way I can.’
Officials from Gwent Police replied to the MP saying: “Inquiries were made to identify addresses for the next of kin to give the sad news of Karla’s death but it was not discovered until 11.30pm.
‘It is a sad indictment of today’s society that an unknown individual made the decision to broadcast such tragic news without consideration for the family.’
A Gwent Police spokesman said: ‘Our professional standards department is investigating a complaint relating to the police response following the sudden death of a 30-year-old woman.
‘Due to the fact that this investigation is currently ongoing, we are not able to offer any further details at this time.’