‘Joshua was the light in my soul’ – mum’s moving tribute to Sheffield teenager who took his own life

A family has paid tribute to a talented and intelligent Sheffield teenager who tragically took his own life.

By Kev Rogers
Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 3:38 pm

A coroner has concluded an inquest into the death of troubled Joshua Gordon Smith, aged 17, from Meersbrook, who was found dead in the bedroom of his home in June 2019.

The inquest in Sheffield yesterday heard how Joshua had been the subject of a custody battle following the break-up of his parents.

His mother Tina Gordon told the inquest her son had sent a last message saying goodbye to his friends on Instagram shortly before he died.

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Sheffield Coroner's Court, where the inquest was held

She claimed her son had been the subject of highly manipulative text messages from an unnamed person - but the inquest heard police had not been able to analyse his mobile phone in time for the inquest conclusion.

Ms Gordon said: "Joshua was the light in my soul. His life shone so brightly."

Her son was a political activist very much into social justice and supported Multicultural Sheffield as a Young Labour member. He was a karate black belt and a keen rock music fan and musician.

Joshua had, said Ms Gordon, been upset about a family friend who had died from suicide. He had also been traumatised after finding her suffering from renal failure at their home and had blamed himself.

The inquest heard the family had been helped and supported by Sheffield City Council's Multi Agency Support Team (MAST) which offers preventative intervention over a range of issues of social care and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Joshua’s mother had raised questions about whether opportunities were missed with the level of support.

But community support team manager Anna Gale said if Joshua had been demonstrating that he wasn't coping and was in distress the case would not have been closed by the agencies.

She said: "There was a long history of parental discord and conflict - it is evident both parents loved him very much."

Recording a conclusion of suicide, assistant coroner Abigail Combes said: "I can see from all the information I have had that Joshua's position was complex.

“We have had a lot of reference made to the custody battle and and the difficulties that you have had as a family previously but I can see two parents who both love their son very much.

“I can see that he and you have had a lot of intervention from various people who it seems were trying to do their best by Joshua and by the family in difficult circumstances.

“Whilst I can see that some concerns have been raised by both of you as to whether there were failings in Joshua getting the support he should have had I can't find anywhere that would have made a difference to the outcome for Joshua.

"I think Joshua was a teenager. He was going through teenage angst and he was trying to support everyone around him as well and did so incredibly well until he couldn't do that any longer.”