A mother’s grief over her son’s suicide was intensified when a video of his body was circulated on social media. Daniel Knott, 39, passed away on March 27, and days later his mother, Jenny Tancock, learned about the distressing video. Jacob Morse, 22, had recorded Daniel before the arrival of emergency services. “To go and share it online for the world to see… it’s the ultimate insult, the ultimate degrading of someone I think,” Jenny said.
On May 18, Morse was sentenced to six weeks in prison at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to circulating a video on social media that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene, or menacing character. Although Jenny has not watched the video, she said knowing that others had seen it caused her and her family immense distress.
“[I felt] anger, pure anger, disbelief that somebody could be so vile as to arrive at a scene like that and actually video it,” said Jenny from Betws, Carmarthenshire. “For us, what Jake Morse has done has just amplified that grief. We’re dealing with something so vile when we should just be grieving for Daniel.”
Jenny was informed that a woman discovered Daniel’s body and called the emergency services. However, Morse, who had been working nearby, came across the scene and filmed Daniel’s body using his mobile phone before emergency services arrived. Jenny said confronting Morse in court left her feeling “full of hate.”
“I shouldn’t have been there, I was grieving… I just shook from head to toe the whole time,” she said. Despite her anger, she said she had mixed feelings about Morse’s six-week custodial sentence. “It hit me as a mother, it really did, he just looked like a big kid… and I was really torn as to how I felt,” she said. “I kept thinking ‘what would Dan do?’ and I don’t think Dan would have wanted him to go to prison.”
“Six weeks isn’t enough, but at the same time, it’s a prison sentence, he’s gone to prison and that tells me that our justice system is taking it seriously.”
Now that the court case is behind her, Jenny has been left to reflect on the horror of the past eight weeks. “To lose a child is the worst thing that can ever happen to you. To lose them to suicide takes it to a different level,” she said.
She remembers Daniel as “an enigma, full of beans, full of life, from the day he was born just kind, caring, generous, loved by everybody.” Daniel grew up to be a raver with a passion for fun, hardcore dance music, and DJing. However, seven years ago, that changed when Daniel was involved in a serious car crash, which left him with a fractured skull and a broken back. He underwent an operation to have metal rods inserted to stabilise his back.
“He split with his girlfriend, lost his house, lost his job, lost everything really,” said Jenny. “Physically he couldn’t play the decks anymore, he couldn’t stand for long, he’d shake from head to toe because the rods were pressing on nerves. “It’s almost as though Daniel lost the fight.”
She said when she saw police officers at her door, she “just knew.” “I just said please don’t, please don’t.”
Jenny and her family are being supported by local charity The Jac Lewis Foundation, which was established by Jac Lewis’s family after he took his own life. The charity has accompanied her to court and arranged for her to have counselling. She said the support had “helped us enormously.”
Jenny said speaking out would be worth it if it could prevent “just one person who is tempted to take a video and share it under any kind of traumatic circumstances.” She said: “I want to raise awareness that these are human beings, they’re people, they’ve got families, to share things on the internet for shock value or for likes is awful and I want them to know that there’s consequences.”
If you have been affected by issues raised in this article, you can visit the BBC Action Line pages.
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