On the 9 September 2018 my brother Craig’s life changed forever in a matter of seconds. Craig witnessed the tragic death of his partner Aaron. After a lovely night out they returned to the apartment and went for a cigarette on the communal front balcony. Aaron finished his cigarette first and left Craig on the front balcony. Craig then heard Aaron shouting his name, it sounded like it was coming from the side corridor leading off the main corridor, Craig went to that corridor but could not see him. Craig then heard Aaron shout again and realised it was coming from the back balcony. To Craig’s horror he found Aaron on the wrong side of the balcony towards the bottom of the metal grid hanging by his fingertips. Craig leaned as far as he could (the sides of the balconies are chest height) and had Aaron by the wrists as he didn’t want Aaron to let go of his grip with his fingers. Aaron tried to swing his legs but there was nothing for him to reach and with the design of the balconies being metal grids he could not get full leverage with his wrists, he was too low down to swing his feet high and he could not reach the balcony below. The pair of them were in an impossible situation but they tried as best they could. Aaron then looked up at Craig, his eyes rolled to the back of his head, and he passed out. At this point Aaron became double the weight and was no longer supporting himself and Craig held on for as long as he could until Aaron eventually slipped through Craig’s hands. Craig watched him fall 8 storeys to the pavement below. Craig then called the emergency services as he was making his way to the ground floor where he sat with Aaron until they arrived. The police turned up and immediately arrested Craig on suspicion of murder – 5 hours later it was all over the news and papers but yet Craig had still not been interviewed at this stage.
Craig was locked up for 3 days then released on bail for 2 weeks. During the 3 days he was detained he was only allowed a daily 10 minute phone call with his family back in the UK which was heart-breaking for all concerned to hear him so distressed, traumatised, grieving and alone. Craig told the truth from the outset and this was the only glimmer of hope that Craig could hold on to. During these 2 weeks, the post mortem took place ruling no foul play and Aaron’s body was released for burial unfortunately Craig was not allowed to attend due to his bail conditions and did not get the chance to say goodbye. Also during this time witnesses had come forward from apartment blocks opposite who had witnessed the tragic events that night and which all corroborated what Craig had said. At times what Craig went through whilst being detained was degrading and humiliating. On the 25 September Craig was released without any charges. Unfortunately it took the police a further 3 weeks to return his personal belongings, money, passport, credit card, phone, computer etc and during this time Craig lost his job. Luckily various family members were able to fly out at different stages to help and support Craig.
I have just returned from spending time with Craig and was shocked to see my brother broken both physically and mentally suffering with PTSD. To see him shake uncontrollably, witness his recurrent distressing memories of the night, panic attacks, long periods of crying, silence, distress, lack of interest, concentration and terrible survivors guilt is devastating plus he has trouble sleeping and when he does finally sleep is plagued with nightmares. We had only left him 2 months earlier after spending time with him and Aaron in the summer and it was the happiest we have ever seen Craig, they were so in love and enjoying life and Craig had just started a new job which he loved. I met with Craig’s doctor whilst I was there who explained that Craig’s life will never be the same again, he will never ‘get over it’ but he may in time find ways to cope with what has happened, this can take years if not the rest of his life. He explained that every morning Craig’s brain re-sets to that tragic night and so begins another day in hell for Craig to which he has no control over. The doctor himself is so shaken by what Craig has been through that he has fast-tracked Craig through the health system and he will start PTSD counselling at the end of November. The GHA have been amazing in particular this one doctor who has gone above and beyond his care of duty to support and look after Craig.
The doctors want Craig to remain in Gibraltar for the foreseeable as he is not in the right mind to make a life changing decision and he needs continuity once his counselling starts. He is now able to visit Aaron’s grave and seems to be taking comfort from being with him. None of us can even begin to imagine what Craig went through that night or the aftermath that followed. Nobody will ever know the reason why Aaron was the other side of the balcony but in less than 24 hours Craig had lost his partner, soul mate, his dignity, his job and his life up until that point and to be accused of something he did not do.
Craig has also just received a legal bill and I feel that as his sister if we could raise some money towards his legal and living costs till he is well enough to work again this will be one less burden for him to carry, as with losing his job, he will have to use his savings to concentrate on getting the counselling and medical help in Gibraltar which hopefully in time will bring him towards the light at the end of this very dark tunnel he is in. Aaron’s family are also devasted by the loss of Aaron particularly his mum who has also lost her job because of the grief and also needs counselling. We would also like to raise money to help support Aaron’s mum through this horrendous time. As a family we are absolutely devastated for the loss of Aaron but also the loss of ‘our gentle Craig’, we feel so helpless so to be able to help him this way would mean so much.
As a family we would like to thank family and friends on Craig’s behalf for your continued messages of support for him and Aaron’s family, Craig may not reply individually but is touched by each message he reads or we pass on, as are we – thank you x