Hostel bosses to investigate teen suicide

Vikki McGovern died in September 2008
Vikki McGovern died in September 2008
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BOSSES at a hostel today vowed to investigate allegations that it had failed a vulnerable resident after the man who killed her was sentenced to ten years in jail.

James Whitson was convicted of the culpable homicide of suicidal Vikki McGovern after he supplied the teenager with the methadone she later used to kill herself.

Pamela Bowmaker says there are "many questions left to answer" over her daughter's death

Pamela Bowmaker says there are "many questions left to answer" over her daughter's death

Today her mother said there were “many questions left to answer” at the hostel where 19-year-old Vikki died.

Pamela Bowmaker said she wants justice for her daughter, who she claims was bullied at the hostel and was not given the round-the-clock attention she required.

Vikki had attempted suicide more than a dozen times before she was found dead in her hostel room at St John’s Hill in September 2008.

Damian McGowan, managing director of Gowrie Care, the company which runs the hostel, today said the care company would look into any complaints the family had.

Ms Bowmaker, of Piersfield Place, claims that she told care workers that her vulnerable daughter was “not safe” at the hostel a week before she was discovered dead from the overdose.

She said: “I told them a week before that I didn’t feel my daughter was safe living under that roof. I told them she should be at home with her mum, but they said she needed round-the-clock care. I don’t feel she got that.

“I feel somebody should have acted on Vikki’s distress that night. Obviously she’s had suicide attempts before and the staff told me that they saw the distress she was experiencing. I feel there should have been a higher level of care, so I want an inquiry into it all.”

Ms Bowmaker has also pointed out that Vikki’s bag, mobile phone and other personal belongings went missing the morning she was found dead, and they have never been recovered.

She said: “Her bag and her mobile phone remain missing. The staff maintain that they kept Vikki’s door locked after her body was found, but her things were gone and I’ve never had them back. They were stolen.”

Ms Bowmaker has also raised concerns about the operations at NHS24 on the night her daughter died. It is claimed Vikki called the helpline in severe distress, but a fire alarm meant her call was ended by an NHS worker, who asked Vikki to telephone back.

Mr McGowan said the care home had not received a formal complaint but would investigate her allegations.

He said: “We offer our deepest condolences to the family. If they feel it is necessary, we’d be happy to look into the allegations. As far as I’m aware there have been no formal complaints. If they want anything looked into, please contact us and we’d certainly do that.”

Whitson, 34, was yesterday sentenced to ten years for culpable homicide in the High Court at Edinburgh.

Judge Lord Pentland told Whitson: “Your conduct involved a great degree of recklessness and irresponsibility and this must be reflected in the sentence.”

The judge said the jury had been satisfied that Vikki died as a direct result of the methadone supplied by Whitson.