Tragic suicide note to DJs written by nurse after royal hoax call: I hold you responsible
- She wrote note after radio station warned her of prank broadcast
- Letter is one of three and singles out two hospital staff for blame
- Friend of family reveals nurse 'committed suicide at second attempt'
By JO MACFARLANE and ABUL TAHER
PUBLISHED: 23:01 GMT, 15 December 2012 | UPDATED: 23:34 GMT, 15 December 2012
The nurse who committed suicide after the royal hoax phone call left a note telling the two DJs behind the prank they were responsible for her death, according to sources close to the family.
In one of three apparent suicide notes, Jacintha Saldanha wrote a short letter in which she expressed her deep anger at the Australian radio presenters and blamed them for her tragic death.
Ms Saldanha, 46, was found hanged with a scarf at her accommodation at the King Edward VII's Hospital in London, where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness.
Anguish: Labour MP Keith Vaz comforts Jacintha Saldanha's teenage daughter Lisha at a mass held at Westminster Cathedral
The Mail on Sunday understands that one of the DJs telephoned the hospital back within an hour of the call and spoke to Ms Saldanha again, telling her they had played a prank which they were about to broadcast.
The revelation is believed to have left Ms Saldanha, who had no experience of dealing with the media, feeling confused and agitated.
DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian – who are believed to be at safe addresses following death threats – have apologised for the tragic repercussions of their prank. They pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles seeking information about the Duchess's condition.
The Mail on Sunday has also been informed that in another, one-page letter, Ms Saldanha criticised 'aspects of the hospital staff', and singled out two individuals for blame.
Although the hospital has repeatedly said no senior member of staff blamed Ms Saldanha for falling victim to the prank and provided her with support, it is understood she may have been reprimanded by colleagues by email.
Asked if Ms Saldanha received a 'ticking-off' by senior colleagues, a family friend yesterday replied: 'What do you think?'
The order of service for a mass held in memory of Jacintha Saldanha held at Westminster Cathedral in central London
The hospital has declined to comment on the notes, saying senior staff have not seen copies. It is believed the original notes are now in the possession of Scotland Yard, which has produced transcripts for the family.
Sources close to the family said their relationship with the hospital was strained as senior managers had not provided 'facts' they have requested.
The hospital has so far not replied to several written questions the family handed to chief executive John Lofthouse at a meeting last Tuesday organised by senior Labour MP Keith Vaz. As a prominent Asian parliamentarian, Mr Vaz was approached by the family for help.'
Mr Lofthouse was given the questions by Ms Saldanha's husband Benedict Barboza, 49, an NHS accountant, their son Junal, 17, and daughter Lisha, 14. Yesterday, Mr Lofthouse attended a mass at Westminster Cathedral where prayers were said for Ms Saldanha. He was accompanied by other members of the hospital's staff, many of whom were in tears.
Shattered: Ms Saldhana's husband Benedict and children Junal and Lisha arm in arm at Westminster Cathedral yesterday
One attendee said he overheard a hospital staff member tell the family: 'I hope you get to the truth.'
Meanwhile, another friend of the family has revealed that Ms Saldanha may have tried to commit suicide more than once in the 72 hours between the prank and the moment her body was discovered by a colleague.
The nurse may have attempted to slash her wrists before she died as a result of hanging herself with a scarf. The friend said: 'She may have tried to kill herself more than once – that's why there are three notes.'
An inquest on Friday was told police found marks on Ms Saldanha's wrists.
The Mail on Sunday has been given details of the crucial 72 hours between the hoax call and the moment the nurse's body was discovered.
Grief: The family was joined by MP Keith Vaz outside the cathedral on Saturday
Grand: A mass was said 'for the repose of the soul of Jacintha and her grieving family'
Stoic: The family spoke of their suffering since Ms Saldanha was found dead last Friday
Ms Saldanha usually called her family in Bristol every evening. But on the Thursday night following the hoax call in the early hours of Tuesday morning, she did not call or text her husband, leaving him concerned.
He called the hospital early on Friday morning and asked a colleague to check on her. But apparently, the nurse failed to do that. Another colleague went to her room at 9.30 am and found her body.
The news was broken to Mr Barboza by police. At no point that day or subsequently did any member of the hospital staff visit the family to express their condolences, according to a family friend.
'They could have gone to break the news to the family but they didn't do it,' the source added.
In her final letter, Ms Saldanha is believed to have asked to be buried in her home village of Shirwa, near Mangalore, in southern India.
The funeral will be held there tomorrow. In a statement, the hospital said: 'No one at the hospital has seen these notes so we cannot comment. However, we reiterate that Jacintha was an outstanding nurse... Hospital management offered her their support and told her they considered her the victim of a cruel hoax.
'They stood by her actions and made it clear there was no criticism of her and that there would be no disciplinary action of any kind.' Asked if any colleagues reprimanded Ms Saldanha by email, a spokesman last night declined to comment.
'Broken' family in India hit out over cruel marriage slurs
By GETHIN CHAMBERLAIN
Grieving: Jacintha Saldanha's mother Carmine
Relative of Jacintha Saldanha have told of their utter despair at her death and hit out at false internet speculation over the state of her marriage.
Mabel Saldanha, Jacintha's eldest sister, was on the brink of tears as she talked exclusively to The Mail on Sunday about Jacintha, whose suicide has left her family grief-stricken.
Sitting in the darkened front room of her house in Mangalore, southern India, Mabel, 50, said suggestions that a troubled marriage might have been behind Jacintha's suicide could not be further from the truth.
She said that although her sister used to stay in the nurses' accommodation while on duty at the King Edward VII's Hospital in Marylebone, she always kept in close touch with her husband and children at home in Bristol.
'She would keep busy with her work, but she only stayed there for convenience and she called them all the time,' she said.
Jacintha also telephoned relatives in Mangalore regularly. 'She was always asking about our health. We were all very close and loving,' Mabel said.
'She seemed very happy to everyone who knew her. I cannot believe she is no more. My mother is saying that she was always the one to make you laugh. That was her biggest talent.'
Mabel said the family had been so terrified of breaking the news to their frail 70-year-old mother Carmine, who has a heart condition, that they decided to tell her only that Jacintha had been taken ill and had then died peacefully.
'My mother needs her very much because she was a most loving daughter,' said Mabel. 'It was very difficult to break the news. She couldn't take it. She was in shock and was just staring at us and then she started crying. Even today she is crying continuously.'
Mabel said their younger sister, 44-year-old Gladys, a beautician, was also 'totally broken' by the news. 'Jacintha stood by her after her husband died,' she explained.
Jacintha even agreed to adopt Gladys's daughter, Lisha, and brought her up as her own to ease the burden on her sister.
'Gladys was financially weak so Jacintha adopted Lisha and raised her as her own,' added Mabel. The 14-year-old posted her own tribute to her adoptive mother on Facebook last week. 'I miss you. I loveee you,' she wrote.
Upsetting: The memorial is taking place inside St Teresa Church, Bristol. Family and friends of the 46-year-old nurse are in attendance
Remembering: Junal lights a candle for his mother during the service
Jacintha was the fourth of six children whose father died when they were young. Some of the children, including Jacintha, were sent to boarding school in Mangalore so their mother could go out to work to support the family.
Both Jacintha and Mabel trained as nurses and went on to work together in Saudi Arabia before Jacintha was offered a new job nursing in Muscat, Oman.
It was there Jacintha met her future husband, Benedict Barboza, and gave birth to their son Junal, now 17. Although the couple were happy, they felt that they could enjoy a better life in the UK and earn enough money to help support Jacintha's mother and youngest sister.
Mabel said: 'She wanted a better life, she wanted to have a house, she wanted to help her mother and sister. She was always caring for us.
'She said she thought she would stay in the UK. She was very happy that she had her citizenship. She would say, “I want you all to be here and for us all to be together as a family.” She had a great heart.'
'OUR UNFILABLE VOID' - BY JACINTHA's CHILDREN
Husband of late Jacintha Saldanha, Benedict Barboza, right, speaks to the media as his son Junal, 16, left looks on
By JO MACFARLANE AND ABUL TAHEER
The husband and children of Jacintha Saldanha paid an emotional tribute to her yesterday, describing her death as an 'unfillable void'.
Benedict Barboza fought back tears on the steps of Westminster Cathedral in London as he said that he felt 'a part of me has been ripped out'.
In a joint tribute, the couple's children – Junal, 17, and Lisha, 14 – added: 'We will miss your laughter, the loving memories and the good times we had together.
'The house is an empty dwelling without your presence. We are shattered and there is an unfillable void in our lives.'
The devastated family, who admitted they barely had the strength to withstand their sorrow, gave a public statement following a special mass, which was held 'for the repose of the soul of Jacintha and her grieving family', according to a Cathedral spokesman.
They expressed their gratitude to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prime Minister David Cameron, the police and their extended family and friends for their support and words of comfort.
But significantly, no mention was made of the King Edward VII's Hospital in London where Ms Saldanha was found hanging in her nurses' quarters nearby on December 7.
MP Keith Vaz, who has been campaigning on behalf of the family, added that their battle had only just begun. 'What the family want more than anything is all the facts, the unvarnished truth, and once they have this they will know what happened to their beloved Jacintha,' he said.
The mass yesterday morning was attended by about 200 friends and family, who arrived in coaches from around the UK. All were handed an order of service containing holiday photographs of Ms Saldanha and her family smiling.
A picture of Ms Saldanha had been placed to the right of the grand altar, where members of her family laid bunches of pale yellow, pink and purple chrysanthemums.
Mr Barboza entered the Cathedral arm in arm with his two children as the candlelit entrance procession, including the Cathedral choir, made their way to the apse. Taking their seats at the front, the family spent the mass gazing silently forwards, occasionally bending their heads in prayer.
From time to time, Mr Barboza took out a white handkerchief to wipe tears from his eyes. A reading from the Book Of Ecclesiastes referred to those 'who have fallen asleep in love'.
Fr Alexander Master said: 'We offer this mass for the repose of the soul of Jacintha Saldanha and it is my honest prayer those words may be said of her too. In that, may her family and all those who mourn her find something of comfort and peace.'
Following the mass, Mr Barboza addressed the mourners and spoke briefly but emotionally about his loss, bringing tears to the eyes of many of those gathered.
He said: 'It's a tragedy because it's my wife who brought us together and I was very proud to be her husband. I don't have any words to say.'
The family asked for time to be on their own to 'say goodbye' and light a candle in Ms Saldanha's memory. Outside, mourners spoke of a 'good family' and a 'lovely woman'.
John Fernandes, 36, a family friend from Nottingham, said: 'They are finding it hard to cope but the community is supporting them.'
Appachan Kananarica, from London, added: 'We came to pay our respects. It was a very moving ceremony.'
Steven Almeida, a family friend, said Ms Saldanha's funeral would take place in her home village in southern India tomorrow.