Mother speaks of loss of ‘vulnerable son’ who took his own life

Christine Lindsay, mother of William Lindsay. Picture John Devlin
Christine Lindsay, mother of William Lindsay. Picture John Devlin
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The mother of teenager William Lindsay who killed himself within 48 hours of being remanded to Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution has spoken of her devastation over his loss.

Christine Lindsay, 54, said she was “a broken woman” after learning her 16-year-old son had taken his own life in the jail. The pair were reunited in September 2017 after he spent more than ten years being moved around the care system.

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“I thought I would have years with him, but William was taken from me again,” she said. “He was a respectful, ­caring lad and he was doing really well. He had a job in a car wash and was getting a provisional licence and driving lessons for his birthday – but he never made it to 17.

“After he died, I took an overdose, but I have to be strong now for my other weans.”

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William’s suicide came days after he walked into a Glasgow police station with a knife early last month.

Social workers and the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration believed the act was a cry for help and wanted him to be sent to a secure children’s unit.

But there were no places available, so when he appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday, 4 October, he was remanded to Polmont.

Though he had been flagged up as a suicide risk, he was found dead in his cell early on the Sunday morning.

William’s case is the latest in a spate of suicides at Polmont. Katie Allan, 21, killed herself in June and two Paisley men – Robert Wagstaff and Liam Kerr – killed themselves within days of each other in January 2017.

Katie’s parents Linda and Stuart have been campaigning for better mental health provision in prisons.

After The Scotsman highlighted the most recent tragedy, questions were raised in Holyrood and justice secretary Humza Yousaf promised the families would not have to wait for the outcome of the Fatal Accident Inquiries, which can take up to four years, for changes to be made.

MSPs, including Pauline McNeill, are also concerned about the provision of secure unit places, the number of under-18s in Polmont and the plight of children within the care system.

Now Lindsay is also demanding answers and “justice” for her son. “William had a very sad life – moved around so many times during his time in care. He was told I didn’t love him and could get depressed especially if he had a drink, which brought his demons out.

“I had been saying for a long time before his death that I wouldn’t want any other child to suffer the way he did. But it took for the inevitable to happen – for him to kill himself – before anyone would listen to me.”

Lindsay believes William was failed both by the social workers who moved him around and by the Scottish Prison Service, which failed to keep him safe.

“I don’t want any other young person to put an end to their own lives in Polmont. I don’t want him to have died in vain,” she said.