“We just fell in love, plain and fucking simple,” Stuart said when asked to describe his and Shannon’s relationship. “I’m 43, she died at 25, so to me it was a blessing that I had some beautiful, absolutely fucking stunning, beautiful young lady wanting to spend time with me.”
He knew Shannon was vulnerable, he said, and he wanted to protect her. And they were happy together, he added, but not all the time. “Every day felt happy, but we’re humans,” he told the Cable. “So some days were shitter than others.”
“To be in a normal human relationship is to become a bit angry now and again, because you love that person,” he said. “If a normal human relationship is ‘sit there quietly and don’t make a noise’, then go crack on with your ‘normal human relationship.’”
He and Shannon met a few years ago while Stuart was in hospital, being treated for blood poisoning. She was there visiting a friend. The two of them hit it off and she soon moved into his flat in Lansdowne Court.
We asked him about accounts we’d heard, of people witnessing their arguments and of signs that he might have harmed her physically. One Lansdowne resident told us that on the morning of her death Shannon was trying to hide her face, that there was a mark on her cheek and scratches on the top of her arms.
While Stuart admitted they fought sometimes, he disputed any claim of violence or domestic abuse.
Could he tell us what happened in the hours before Shannon’s death? He said the two of them had a “good day”, went shopping and in the evening to a pub near the city centre not far from Bristol Temple Meads station.
“It rolled up to just before 11pm… I had my dog with me, my dog comes everywhere with me,” he told the Cable. “I gave [Shannon] my bank card, my wallet. I said, ‘Get a taxi home, I can’t take the dog in the taxi’, and I said, ‘I can walk from here to Easton in 10 minutes, 15 minutes.’”
He said that he waited for her taxi to arrive, but when he arrived home was surprised to find that Shannon wasn’t there.
“I got home, I took my clothes off. I’m laying on the sofa, the television is on. I’m in my boxer shorts, I’ve put a bath bomb in the bath that she bought for me that day. I don’t use bath bombs but I thought, ‘Fuck it let’s just do a bath bomb.”
“And I’m thinking: ‘Where’s Shannon?’… I’m not worrying,” he said. “I’m trying to phone her, but she’s not one to answer her phone, you know, if she wants to talk to you she’ll phone you.”
Police told the Cable that CCTV showed Shannon arriving at the tower block alone shortly before midnight, taking the lift to the 13th floor and then, “almost immediately”, she fell to her death from the window.
Describing the moment Shannon arrived at the front door, Stuart said: “She had the clothes on that I’d bought for her that day, that we’d been shopping for… We had a nice day and she just came in and said ‘I’m sick of the world, and I’m sick of the people in [it].
“And then she jumped on the sofa, she was crying, she took her glasses off, took her hair [down].
“She jumped out the fucking window, and I grabbed her,” he added, explaining that he managed to get hold of Shannon’s wrist and ankle.
“I couldn’t hold her… and then [her] shoe came off,” he said, running a hand over a tattoo of Shannon’s name on his arm that he got following her death. Staring at his hands, he becomes visibly upset.
Asked why he thought he was arrested on suspicion of murdering Shannon, Stuart said: “That just makes me want to laugh. I tried to save Shannon… I did my best to pull her back [inside]. I couldn’t do it, and I’ll beat myself up every day for that.”
People heard shouting coming from their flat. So, we asked Stuart, were you angry at her that night? “No, no,” he replied. “The only noise that came from me that night was me saying, ‘You’re going to die if you drop’, and ‘I can’t hold you’.”
After being held in custody for 36 hours following Shannon’s death, he was released under investigation – a police power that, unlike bail, has no time limit or conditions. He moved out of his flat in Lansdowne Court, where he had lived as a council tenant for about a decade, and said he was made homeless.
Stuart said his life has fallen apart since Shannon’s death. He said he doesn’t want to go back to Lansdowne Court and that going to prison would be a relief – that he’s so used to spending time in jail it’s normal for him.
He said that Shannon had been going to counselling, and that he thought this “opened Pandora’s box”.
“Shannon decided to do what she wanted to do,” he said. “She didn’t hesitate doing it… As sad as it is, as hurtful as it is, if she didn’t want to do it she wouldn’t have done it. She obviously had some shit going on inside herself that she didn’t let anyone else know about.
“I’ll see her again, I’ll be back with her soon,” he said, before kissing his tattoo of her name and the date of her death. The date, we noticed, was two days off. Shannon died on 19 April but the date on his arm read 17 April.
Stuart told us that he had been self-harming since Shannon’s death.
Asked if he has any family or friends to support him, he said that at the age of 12 he was taken into care. “I haven’t seen my family for nearly 15 years,” he said. “I keep asking why I was taken from my family – they won’t tell me.
“From then I just didn’t have a family… Out of me and my five brothers and sisters, I’m in the middle… I’m like, ‘What the fuck was wrong with me?’”