Family describe 'unfillable void' left by nurse Jacintha Saldanha's death at Westminster Cathedral mass

 

The family of the nurse found dead after being duped by a prank call from two Australian radio DJs described the “unfillable void” left in their lives as a mass was held for her at Westminster Cathedral today.

Mother-of-two Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found hanging in her nurses' quarters at King Edward VII's Hospital by a colleague and a security guard on December 7.

The nurse transferred the DJs, believing they were the Queen and Prince of Wales, to a colleague who described in detail the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge during her hospital stay for severe pregnancy sickness.

The mass was held "for the repose of the soul of Jacintha and her grieving family", a spokesman for the Cathedral said.

Following the service, Ms Saldanha's husband Benedict Barboza and two children Junal and Lisha paid an emotional tribute to a "kind-hearted, generous and well-respected woman".

Fighting back tears, Mr Barboza said: "My wife, you were the light in my darkness, who always showed me the way forward.

"From the day we met, you always stood by me in times of hardship and happiness.

"I feel a part of me has been ripped out.

"Without your beautiful smile and sparkling personality, the house is an empty place to live.

"Nineteen years of togetherness with a strong bond of affection and understanding will be cherished forever in my life.

"Your loss is a very painful one and nobody can take that place in my life ever again. I love you and miss you forever."

Ms Saldanha's son Junal said: "Our mother, kind hearted, generous and a well respected woman in both of our lives. You were the core of the family who kept us together.

"In times of difficulty you showed us the way forward to happiness and success.

"Your priority for us was a good education and a bright future. You taught us right from wrong which we appreciate.

"You worked tirelessly to give us everything that we have today. When we achieved good grades and merit, your pat on our backs encouraged us more."

Daughter Lisha, 14, said: "We will miss your laughter, the loving memories and the good times we had together. The house is an empty dwelling without your presence.

"We are shattered and there's an unfillable void in our lives.

"We love you mum, sleep in peace and watch over us until me meet again in heaven. We will always love you and keep you close to our heart."

Standing outside the cathedral alongside their local MP Charlotte Leslie and MP Keith Vaz, who has been campaigning on behalf of the family, Mr Barboza said the family "could not have foreseen the unprecedented tragedy that has unfolded in our lives".

"The events of the last week have shattered our lives. We barely have the strength to withstand the grief and sorrow."

He thanked the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prime Minister David Cameron for their condolences.

During the service, Father Alexander Master said: "The mass is offered for the repose of the soul of Jacintha Saldanha and also for the family, some of whom we welcome here today.

"We pray for them and, in particular, for her."

Memorial services have already been held at the hospital where Ms Saldanha worked and in Bristol where her husband and children live.

Her funeral will take place in Karnataka, India, on Monday, her family said.

Indian-born Ms Saldanha left three notes and also had marks on her wrist when her body was discovered, Westminster Coroner's Court in London heard on Thursday.

The DJs behind the hoax call - Mel Greig and Michael Christian - have given an emotional account of their reaction to Ms Saldanha's death.

Interviewed on Australian TV networks, the presenters said their prank call to the hospital prompted "a tragic turn of events no-one could have predicted or expected".

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), the parent company of 2Day FM, has ended the pair's Hot 30 show and suspended prank calls across the company.

A provisional date of March 26 has been set for the next inquest hearing into Ms Saldanha's death.

Yesterday, after a private memorial service for Ms Saldanha at the hospital, its chief executive John Lofthouse said the nurse was reassured on a number of occasions by senior management after the hoax.

Mr Lofthouse said Ms Saldanha was the victim of a "cruel trick", after which senior staff did not blame her and offered her time off and counselling.

Writing in reply to Mr Vaz, who stated that Ms Saldanha's family needed to know the "full facts" of what happened, Mr Lofthouse said: "Jacintha believed that the call was genuine and she felt it appropriate to put the call through. We stand by her judgment.

"Following the hoax call, Jacintha was reassured on a number of occasions by senior management that no blame was attached to her actions and that there were no disciplinary issues involved, because she had been the victim of a cruel trick."

Mr Lofthouse said she was offered a range of support after the hoax, including time off, but decided to continue working.

He wrote: "As well as this reassurance, Jacintha was offered a range of further support including time off, the opportunity to return home and counselling from our occupational health service.

"Jacintha said that she would prefer to continue working. Neither ourselves, her friends or family noticed anything to give cause for concern."

Australian news website news.co.au said police have launched an investigation due to SCA staff receiving death threats, with one letter specifically targeting Mr Christian.

Rhys Holleran, the chief executive of SCA, told Mr Vaz the company would carry out "a complete review of all of our procedures and processes".

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) has announced an investigation into the broadcast, he added.

Mr Holleran said SCA has been given a deadline of January 4 to comply with detailed requests for information.

He added: "As we have stated publicly, we are truly sorry for what has happened."

Mr Vaz, in response, invited Mr Holleran to send an apology addressed to Ms Saldanha's husband.

He added that he would be asking Acma make the results of its investigation public.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Business Development Director - Interior Design

£80000 - £100000 per annum + competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits