Tragedy of a son stricken by grief

Matthew Symonds

Police were called to a Biffa recycling plant in Avonmouth

First published in News
Last updated
Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @BerenCross

MATTHEW Symonds was found dead in an Avonmouth waste unit just one week after being released from prison.

The 34-year-old former Headlands School pupil was from Swindon but had no fixed address following his release.

In the last Facebook status update before his death, Mr Symonds, on Friday, July 25, said he had left prison the day before, after serving four months of an eight-month sentence.

“Got out of HMP on Thursday after getting eight months and fone [sic] half four months,” he said.

Before his incarceration, Mr Symonds had been living at Booth House in Spring Close, a 50-bed resettlement centre for homeless adults run by the Salvation Army, since February 24.

In the days leading up to his 34th birthday on March 21 this year, Mr Symonds reflected upon his mother, whom he lost last September.

On March 19, he posted: “Dreading Friday, as it [is] my 34th birthday and it will be weird without my mum there to celebrate it. I miss you so much, mum.”

On March 17, he said: “Dreading my 34th birthday on Friday, March 21.

“It will be my first birthday without my mum to celebrate it with me, and that will hurt me [on] Friday.

“Can’t sleep tonight, I don’t know why. I just want to be happy.”

His mother, Madeleine Leadbeater, passed away on September 9 last year, two days after he was released from another stint behind bars. He promised to look after her favourite cat Blackie.

In a later status update he said a coroner had found his mother had died from natural causes at the age of 49.

Last October, he wrote: “Found out today why my mum died at 49. Coroner told us today that they could not find nothing atore [sic] wrong with my mum.

“So, my mum passed away peacefully in her sleep. Cause of death [was] natural causes. Mum, I [am] so happy you did not suffer.

“Mum, I love you and miss you so much, and I [will] never forget you. Love you always, mum. R.I.P – love from your only son Matthew.”

Mr Symonds’s death continues to be described as unexplained by police detectives, who are waiting on results from a post-mortem, which may not be released for several weeks.

Senior investigating officer DCI Gareth Bevan said: “The incident is being investigated and police are following several lines of inquiry to establish the circumstances surrounding Mr Symonds’s death.

“Police enquiries so far suggest the body was transported with commercial recycling waste collected in Swindon and therefore the focus of the investigation will be in that area going forward.

“The investigation is at an early stage and we are keeping an open mind about the circumstances leading up to his death. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.”

Avon & Somerset Police were called to the Biffa depot in St Andrew’s Road, Avonmouth, at 11.30am on Friday after staff were concerned at what they thought were human remains in one of their units.

A task force made up of Avon & Somerset and Wiltshire Police has now been co-ordinated after it became clear the body had been transported from Swindon.

There is no current appeal for witnesses.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree