My dad killed himself before Christmas after benefits were stopped – he left me a heartbreaking gift to 'keep in touch' | The Sun

A DAUGHTER whose dad tragically killed himself before Christmas after his benefits were stopped has revealed he left her a heartbreaking gift as a way to “keep in touch”.

Kevin Dooley had bought walkie-talkies for his granddaughters and his daughter Leanne believes it was his way of keeping in touch from heaven.

Dad of three Kevin, 48, hung himself after his benefits were cruelly stopped in December 2018.

Leanne had seen him hours earlier and later discovered his body.

The mum-of-three bravely went on to celebrate Christmas for the sake of her young daughters – and now remembers her father each Christmas with a tribute bauble on her tree.

Leanne met the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper in Parliament last month to plead for changes in the way that disabled claimants are treated by the DWP.

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Leanne, mum to Cara, 12, Scarlet, 10 and Willow, two, said: "On the day my dad hung himself, I visited him, but I was in a real hurry because it was coming up to Christmas and I'd been at work and was rushing to collect my children from school.

"I didn't hug him or tell him I loved him. That will haunt me always.

"Hours later I went back to discover he had hung himself. I hope everyone who reads my story hugs the people they love this Christmas. You never know when you will run out of time.

"After Dad died, I discovered he had ordered presents for my daughters, walkie-talkies, to be delivered to my house. I like to think it was his way of keeping in touch from heaven."

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As a young man, Kevin was a devoted father and a fit and healthy man. He was a painter and decorator and a DIY expert.

Leanne, from Leeds, said: "When I was little, my dad was lots of fun. He had always struggled with depression but did his best to hide it.

"When I got my own place he laid new floors and did all my DIY. When my kids came along, he idolised them. He looked after them whilst I worked, and he spoiled them with treats and presents."


In 2001, Kevin began to suffer with COPD and was diagnosed with a blood disorder. He became too ill to work and relied on benefits and suffered with severe depression.

Leanne said: "Dad really struggled with his health. He had several blackouts and hospital admissions. I worked in a pharmacy so I helped with his medication. I visited him every day.

"He loved seeing my children, he really lived for his granddaughters."

But in July 2018, Kevin received a letter from the DWP asking him to attend a fit to work assessment.

The family believed the appointment was routine, but in November he was notified that his benefits would be stopped.

Leanne added: "Dad rang me at work and he was crying and panicking. I had never heard him in such a state. I told him that we'd appeal, I couldn't see how anyone could declare him fit to work. I felt sure it was a mistake."

But Kevin's appeal was refused and Leanne began preparing to go to a tribunal.

She said: "I was planning to give him some money to keep him going. But he didn't want charity; he felt ashamed. He wanted to be able to buy treats for his grandkids and to feed and look after himself, with his own money.

"By now, it was just a week before Christmas and so I was really busy with nativity plays and Christmas shopping. I was working and also looking after my dad and my daughters.

"On December 17 I popped in to see Dad to collect all the DWP paperwork to prepare for his tribunal. He was really down but I was in a big rush to collect the girls from school, I didn't hug him or tell him how much I loved him. I will always regret that."

That same evening, Leanne received a text saying “I love you” from her father. She rushed to his home and found him hanging.

Kevin was rushed to hospital but passed away on December 20, aged 48.


Leanne said: "I was absolutely heartbroken. Despite his depression, I hadn't seen it coming. He had ordered walkie talkies for my daughters which arrived a few days before Christmas. I like to think it's his way of keeping in touch.

"I had to go ahead with Christmas, for my daughters. We got a bauble with Dad's photo on and kept his ashes at home.

"The tragedy was, I'd planned to give him a lump sum of cash for Christmas, but of course he never got to know that."

Kevin's death was recorded as suicide and, as the family struggled to cope, Leanne discovered she was pregnant with her third child, Willow, now two.

She says: "I believe Willow was sent by my dad to make us all smile again. She was a complete surprise but she really gave us a new focus."

Leanne is now campaigning for the DWP to treat benefits claimants with more compassion and respect.

She will next month travel to parliament to lobby MP's and meet the shadow home secretary.

She said: "My dad had a meeting with a total stranger at the DWP who told him to touch his toes and then decided to take away his only source of income.

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“There is no way he was fit to work and it was the loss of his benefits that drove him to suicide.

"I want to make sure that no other family suffers as we have. We miss him so much, especially at Christmas."

Contact the Samaritans

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact The Samaritans on 116 123.

They are available for free at anytime.

Or email

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