Child maintenance blunder brings renewed grief 18 months after grandson's death

A distraught David and Rosemary Wickenden.

Mitchell Wickenden

The letter from the CSA to David and Rosemary Wickenden about Mitchell

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Health Reporter

“WE were only just beginning to get over our grief.”

Those were the words of a Southampton couple who were left outraged after receiving a letter promising them child support payments for their grandson – an astonishing 19 years too late.

David and Rosemary Wickenden applied for the money when they took in grandson Mitchell when he was just eight years old.

But almost two decades later – and tragically 18 months after Mitchell died at the age of 25 – they have finally been told their claim was being processed.

Mitchell and his sister Sadie were brought up by their grandparents in Pat Bear Close, Redbridge, following the breakdown of their parents’ relationship in 1995.

Mitchell went on to join the army, serving in Iraq, before he returned home and sadly took his own life in October 2012.

But a letter from the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) landed on their doorsteps just days ago, leaving the pensioners shocked and upset.

David, 74, demanded an apology and said he had no idea why the CMS were acting now, almost 20 years after the couple gave up on attempts to obtain support from Mitchell’s parents.

He said: “At the time we were told we could not claim off our son Paul because he was out of work. We got some money from their mother but it ended quickly.

“Then we got this letter and I was just amazed. I thought child support ran out at 16? And if he was still alive Mitchell would be 27 so how can something like this happen?”

David added: “We did all the legwork for child support years ago but never got anywhere, so this just shows what a mess they can make of it. It’s pure carelessness and I think we deserve an apology.”

The couple say they spent more than an hour on the phone to the service trying to get answers, but to no avail.

Rosemary, 71, added: “What if a mother whose young child had died had received something like this? We want to make sure this never happens again.”

Last night, after repeated requests from the Daily Echo for an explanation about what had gone wrong, the service issued an apology to the couple.

A spokesman said: “Unfortunately a letter was sent to Mr and Mrs Wickenden in error and we apologise for the obvious distress this has caused. We are urgently investigating how this has happened and will be in touch with the family shortly.”

Mitchell, a former soldier with the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, was found hanged at his home in Witts Hill, Midanbury.

An avid Saints fan, he was just 18 when he was sent on a sixmonth tour of duty in Iraq in 2006 and later discharged from the Army on medical grounds.

An inquest last March heard he had become depressed after splitting up with his girlfriend and losing his job at a local removal firm.

It was also heard his experiences in Iraq may have contributed to his suicide.

Comments (20)

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8:27am Wed 29 Jan 14

sotongirlie says...

Months or years?
Months or years? sotongirlie
  • Score: -13

8:31am Wed 29 Jan 14

Ozmosis says...

sotongirlie wrote:
Months or years?
Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim.

The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide.

It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed
[quote][p][bold]sotongirlie[/bold] wrote: Months or years?[/p][/quote]Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim. The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide. It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed Ozmosis
  • Score: 39

9:04am Wed 29 Jan 14

hulla baloo says...

Ozmosis wrote:
sotongirlie wrote:
Months or years?
Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim.

The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide.

It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed
Wait for the usual bull, 'lessons will be learnt' and 'staff retaining' etc.
No excuses for this incompetence.
[quote][p][bold]Ozmosis[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]sotongirlie[/bold] wrote: Months or years?[/p][/quote]Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim. The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide. It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed[/p][/quote]Wait for the usual bull, 'lessons will be learnt' and 'staff retaining' etc. No excuses for this incompetence. hulla baloo
  • Score: 15

9:15am Wed 29 Jan 14

sotonboy84 says...

hulla baloo wrote:
Ozmosis wrote:
sotongirlie wrote:
Months or years?
Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim.

The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide.

It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed
Wait for the usual bull, 'lessons will be learnt' and 'staff retaining' etc.
No excuses for this incompetence.
Well it's a bit of both really, complete unexcusable incompetence and lessons need to be learnt. I'm sure part of the fault was due to automated systems but somebody would have had to manually look at the 'claim' and realise that the dates were a little out.
[quote][p][bold]hulla baloo[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ozmosis[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]sotongirlie[/bold] wrote: Months or years?[/p][/quote]Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim. The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide. It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed[/p][/quote]Wait for the usual bull, 'lessons will be learnt' and 'staff retaining' etc. No excuses for this incompetence.[/p][/quote]Well it's a bit of both really, complete unexcusable incompetence and lessons need to be learnt. I'm sure part of the fault was due to automated systems but somebody would have had to manually look at the 'claim' and realise that the dates were a little out. sotonboy84
  • Score: 12

9:24am Wed 29 Jan 14

Dai Rear says...

How incredibly sad that the lads' parents never bothered to help-at least after a short time. Did son Paul never work then?
Clerks are always making mistakes but you'd expect more of your own flesh and blood.
How incredibly sad that the lads' parents never bothered to help-at least after a short time. Did son Paul never work then? Clerks are always making mistakes but you'd expect more of your own flesh and blood. Dai Rear
  • Score: 16

9:40am Wed 29 Jan 14

10 Minute Man says...

Did they tell the child maintenance people that the claim was no longer required ? If not, how were they expected to know ? On the other hand it would be reasonable to expect that the claim had failed after all that time.

The real revelation is that something can sit in the queue for 19 years before being dealt with.
Did they tell the child maintenance people that the claim was no longer required ? If not, how were they expected to know ? On the other hand it would be reasonable to expect that the claim had failed after all that time. The real revelation is that something can sit in the queue for 19 years before being dealt with. 10 Minute Man
  • Score: 6

11:10am Wed 29 Jan 14

gilbertratchet says...

sotongirlie wrote:
Months or years?
Months. You read it, right? He died 18 months ago, but the payments were for 19 years ago.
[quote][p][bold]sotongirlie[/bold] wrote: Months or years?[/p][/quote]Months. You read it, right? He died 18 months ago, but the payments were for 19 years ago. gilbertratchet
  • Score: 9

11:11am Wed 29 Jan 14

gilbertratchet says...

hulla baloo wrote:
Ozmosis wrote:
sotongirlie wrote:
Months or years?
Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim.

The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide.

It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed
Wait for the usual bull, 'lessons will be learnt' and 'staff retaining' etc.
No excuses for this incompetence.
Nice. Imagine if everyone got sacked every time they made a mistake. We'd all be on the dole.
[quote][p][bold]hulla baloo[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ozmosis[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]sotongirlie[/bold] wrote: Months or years?[/p][/quote]Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim. The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide. It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed[/p][/quote]Wait for the usual bull, 'lessons will be learnt' and 'staff retaining' etc. No excuses for this incompetence.[/p][/quote]Nice. Imagine if everyone got sacked every time they made a mistake. We'd all be on the dole. gilbertratchet
  • Score: 10

12:08pm Wed 29 Jan 14

cliffwalker says...

A sad story indeed and we can only have sympathy for the Wickendens but is it news? How would you like it if the last mistake you made at work appeared in the newspaper?
A sad story indeed and we can only have sympathy for the Wickendens but is it news? How would you like it if the last mistake you made at work appeared in the newspaper? cliffwalker
  • Score: 1

12:34pm Wed 29 Jan 14

theresasurprise says...

cliffwalker wrote:
A sad story indeed and we can only have sympathy for the Wickendens but is it news? How would you like it if the last mistake you made at work appeared in the newspaper?
Because not every mistake that's made is as traumatic as this....especially as the lad committed suicide after serving his country that should have been supporting him.......instead the CMC has made a blunder , ......Yes we all make mistake but in this case its one hell of a blunder ! Whoever it was that made it should have checked and double check dates etc ..........
[quote][p][bold]cliffwalker[/bold] wrote: A sad story indeed and we can only have sympathy for the Wickendens but is it news? How would you like it if the last mistake you made at work appeared in the newspaper?[/p][/quote]Because not every mistake that's made is as traumatic as this....especially as the lad committed suicide after serving his country that should have been supporting him.......instead the CMC has made a blunder , ......Yes we all make mistake but in this case its one hell of a blunder ! Whoever it was that made it should have checked and double check dates etc .......... theresasurprise
  • Score: 8

1:20pm Wed 29 Jan 14

From the sidelines says...

hulla baloo wrote:
Ozmosis wrote:
sotongirlie wrote:
Months or years?
Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim.

The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide.

It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed
Wait for the usual bull, 'lessons will be learnt' and 'staff retaining' etc.
No excuses for this incompetence.
Incompetence is its own excuse.

See Hanlon's Razor for details.
[quote][p][bold]hulla baloo[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ozmosis[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]sotongirlie[/bold] wrote: Months or years?[/p][/quote]Both. They claimed for maintenance 19 years ago when the chap was still of primary school age, and the agency have written back now saying they are looking at the claim. The 18 months relates to the period of time following the lad's suicide. It must be awful for the grandparents, and the agency should be thoroughly embarrassed[/p][/quote]Wait for the usual bull, 'lessons will be learnt' and 'staff retaining' etc. No excuses for this incompetence.[/p][/quote]Incompetence is its own excuse. See Hanlon's Razor for details. From the sidelines
  • Score: 0

1:40pm Wed 29 Jan 14

gilbertratchet says...

theresasurprise wrote:
cliffwalker wrote:
A sad story indeed and we can only have sympathy for the Wickendens but is it news? How would you like it if the last mistake you made at work appeared in the newspaper?
Because not every mistake that's made is as traumatic as this....especially as the lad committed suicide after serving his country that should have been supporting him.......instead the CMC has made a blunder , ......Yes we all make mistake but in this case its one hell of a blunder ! Whoever it was that made it should have checked and double check dates etc ..........
I guarantee you this was not down to one person.
[quote][p][bold]theresasurprise[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]cliffwalker[/bold] wrote: A sad story indeed and we can only have sympathy for the Wickendens but is it news? How would you like it if the last mistake you made at work appeared in the newspaper?[/p][/quote]Because not every mistake that's made is as traumatic as this....especially as the lad committed suicide after serving his country that should have been supporting him.......instead the CMC has made a blunder , ......Yes we all make mistake but in this case its one hell of a blunder ! Whoever it was that made it should have checked and double check dates etc ..........[/p][/quote]I guarantee you this was not down to one person. gilbertratchet
  • Score: 3

5:36pm Wed 29 Jan 14

elvisimo says...

Is this really a news worthy story?
Is this really a news worthy story? elvisimo
  • Score: -1

5:38pm Wed 29 Jan 14

elvisimo says...

Did a poor clerical error really cause such a relapse that you would have to run off to the echo?
Did a poor clerical error really cause such a relapse that you would have to run off to the echo? elvisimo
  • Score: 2

8:02pm Wed 29 Jan 14

sparkster says...

what an utter disgrace, does nobody know how to update records? I really feel for these people, they've had the heatache of losing a grandson only for some incompetent individual to drag it all up again
what an utter disgrace, does nobody know how to update records? I really feel for these people, they've had the heatache of losing a grandson only for some incompetent individual to drag it all up again sparkster
  • Score: -5

8:15pm Wed 29 Jan 14

andysaints007 says...

cliffwalker wrote:
A sad story indeed and we can only have sympathy for the Wickendens but is it news? How would you like it if the last mistake you made at work appeared in the newspaper?
Go away you complete plank
[quote][p][bold]cliffwalker[/bold] wrote: A sad story indeed and we can only have sympathy for the Wickendens but is it news? How would you like it if the last mistake you made at work appeared in the newspaper?[/p][/quote]Go away you complete plank andysaints007
  • Score: 0

8:55pm Wed 29 Jan 14

owiseone says...

Instead of being distracted by the sad faces why not look at the letter that is also pictured next to them . It does say that the father has been named in a new case . THAT would be the reason the case was reopened . . I agree this is NOT headline news .
Instead of being distracted by the sad faces why not look at the letter that is also pictured next to them . It does say that the father has been named in a new case . THAT would be the reason the case was reopened . . I agree this is NOT headline news . owiseone
  • Score: 5

10:45pm Wed 29 Jan 14

greyfeather says...

What a sad story. RIP Mitchell.

Mistakes happen, just in this case no one was to know how traumatic the outcome would be :(
What a sad story. RIP Mitchell. Mistakes happen, just in this case no one was to know how traumatic the outcome would be :( greyfeather
  • Score: 2

9:48am Thu 30 Jan 14

skeptik says...

We all go through life making the odd mistake, sometimes they go unremarked other times we have regret. It appears more often now that we are intolerant of others making mistakes, whilst accepting our own.
We all go through life making the odd mistake, sometimes they go unremarked other times we have regret. It appears more often now that we are intolerant of others making mistakes, whilst accepting our own. skeptik
  • Score: 1

11:35am Thu 30 Jan 14

courtneyj says...

sparkster wrote:
what an utter disgrace, does nobody know how to update records? I really feel for these people, they've had the heatache of losing a grandson only for some incompetent individual to drag it all up again
so true , anyone who thinks this is NOT headline news is clearly deluded , just shows how imcompetent people are! this is my brother and im fuming at this , and at some of these comments , just shows how stupid people are in this world.
[quote][p][bold]sparkster[/bold] wrote: what an utter disgrace, does nobody know how to update records? I really feel for these people, they've had the heatache of losing a grandson only for some incompetent individual to drag it all up again[/p][/quote]so true , anyone who thinks this is NOT headline news is clearly deluded , just shows how imcompetent people are! this is my brother and im fuming at this , and at some of these comments , just shows how stupid people are in this world. courtneyj
  • Score: -2

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