We received a letter from the partner of Paul Cunniffe, who also died in suspicious circumstances at the building where Paul Roundhill used to live. The same building where Mark fell to his death. We’d like to publish it in full here so that her statement is public.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer you my wholehearted support – in your campaign for justice for your son, Mark.
I cannot even begin to comprehend your pain. Losing a child is a truly terrible experience – one I can hardly bear to imagine.
My circumstances are quite different – but the similarities in our stories quite shocking.
My partner, Paul Cunniffe, was 40 years old when he died, on August 11th, 2001 – falling from the roof of Fieldgate Mansions in Whitechapel, where your son also died.
Paul was a musician, singer-songwriter, of Irish ancestry – beautiful, talented, widely admired and full of energy.
Things hadn’t ever been easy for Paul, and he was in a difficult place in his life, for a number of quite complex, personal reasons.
To this day I, and the rest of Paul’s family, have little, if any, idea about what happened, or who was involved.
Paul had been associating with a group of people in these flats. The only person I ever came into contact with was a known drug dealer, also called Paul. I don’t know his surname. A scruffy looking, weasel of a man. Shifty, jumpy, and not terribly engaging.
I couldn’t see the attraction of hanging around with these people but, having recently given birth to our second child at the end of June that year, my priorities lay elsewhere.
Paul had gone across to see someone who he said owed him money, and that he’d be back later that afternoon. As I dropped him off at the tube station the last thing he said, to the reflection in my rear view mirror, was ‘I love you.’ Corny, but true. I never saw him alive again after that.
I got a phone call from a police officer who was calling from Bethnal Green police station, ‘in connection with Paul Cunniffe, trying to trace his relatives.’ I laughed and said, ‘that’s what they say on TV when someone has died.’ Silence from him – followed by hysteria from me, as the reality dawned that Paul was indeed dead.
From that moment we were set upon a rollercoaster ride of bewilderment, regrets, grief, pain and confusion – that has never quite ended. The impact on our family has been devastating.
At the inquest, the Coroner in Poplar, who was a very sympathetic and kind man, was quite clear with the family, about the purpose of the inquest hearing. To establish the cause of death – that was all. Due to his injuries, Paul had clearly died from a fall. He had been attended by the HEMS air ambulance service, by road, from just around the corner in Whitechapel, but had died in the Royal London Hospital, having suffered a massive sub-lateral bleed, and multiple injuries. Having been given so many transfusions, toxicology reports were inconclusive.
The Coroner was clear that it would be down to the family to raise the issue with the police, if we felt that they should pursue the investigation. It was not something the Coroner’s Court was empowered to do, apparently. The police stated that they had called round to the address in Fieldgate Mansions three or four times but had failed to get an answer. They concluded that there was no case to answer.
We were devastated. We had considered all sorts of possibilities – that there had been a fight, that other people had been involved, that drink or drugs had been a factor.
To get no answer on any of these things was utterly shocking – and in our minds a total travesty. My opinion on that has never changed. Having a six week old baby in my arms, and a four and a half year old child at home, devastated by the loss of his father, left us in no doubt that we were in no position to pursue this.
It is my belief that Paul was attempting to get away from a situation, or from someone, when he fell. I don’t know what or who. I don’t know what this ‘Paul’ person had to do with any of it, but I know he was there. I spoke to him once, briefly, and he confirmed that much. In not coming forward, and not speaking to the police how we would ever know what else happened?
I can’t believe that the police are not compelled to fully investigate any suspicious death. What sort of society do we live in, where that is acceptable?
The fact that Mark Blanco died in similar circumstances at the same location is uncanny. The fact that this death was also not investigated is outrageous.
How many people who come into contact with this group of toxic, low-life scumbags need to die before waves are finally made? I believe that is something which needs to be answered.
The fact that the film maker, Robyn Whitehead, also appears to have died, in association with the same group of individuals, cannot be ignored.
Fight on, Sheila, fight on! I totally admire your strength and fortitude, and your resolve to pursue this campaign! May you continue to find the courage, support and resources to do so.
May we all – one day soon – find an answer, find justice, and find peace.