Mother appeals for return of phone containing daughter’s last loving message

Theives have broken in to the home of Carol Gradwell and taken a phone and laptop which had pictures and texts from her daughter, Nyki Taylor, who died earlier this year in a car crash.
Theives have broken in to the home of Carol Gradwell and taken a phone and laptop which had pictures and texts from her daughter, Nyki Taylor, who died earlier this year in a car crash.

A grieving mother was left devastated after a burglar stole her mobile phone which contained a final loving message from her dead daughter.

The voicemail on Carol Gradwell’s Samsung Galaxy handset were the last recorded words she had from 39-year-old Nicola Taylor, who was killed in a car crash in Ansdell on January 10.

Ever since her daughter’s death, Mrs Gradwell, 60. had treasured the words “Happy new Year Momma Bear” sent just a week before the 
fatal accident.

But the break-in at her home in Horncliffe Road, South Shore, has left Mrs Gradwell and Nicola’s 20-year-old brother Liam heartbroken.

The phone also contained the last photographs taken of Nicola, which had not been downloaded and cannot be replaced and other messages.

Mrs Gradwell, who is nearly blind and has a guide dog, said: “I will never get over losing those messages and pictures. It is like Nicola’s final words have been snatched from me.

“The phone will probably be sold for a few pounds or dumped without any realising the value of Nicola’s message to me.”

The burglars also took an Apple computer and iPad during the raid belonging to Liam and containing work for a course he is taking on script writing at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).

Luckily, much of Liam’s work is backed up on computers at university.

The pair were asleep upstairs during the raid in the early hours of last Thursday morning.

Mrs Gradwell’s Labrador guide dog Rosie was sleeping but was not woken by the burglar who broke in through a rear window.

The phone contains special software to allow someone with restricted vision to use it and Liam’s computers are loaded with programmes to help with his autism.

Mrs Gradwell said: “The phone and computers will probably prove to be useless to whoever has stolen them but if someone buys them they will know straight away that these devices have been specially adapted for use.

“Nicola was our world and we miss her terribly. It’s like being forced to begin the grieving process over again. It’s like losing her once more.”

Caterer Nicola, who used to run Taylor’s Cafe in Clifton Street, Lytham, before opening a business in Freckleton, was killed in the crash on Skew Bridge.

Michael Wilson, 27, of Albert Street, Lytham, is charged with causing her death while being almost twice the drink drive limit.

He will appear at Preston Crown Court on August 3.

Mrs Gradwell and Liam had only recently moved to the bigger house in South Shore from their home in Poulton in order to store some of Nicola’s belongings.

And the week before the raid, mother and son had returned from a trip to New York paid for with money left by Nicola.

“She always wanted to go to New York, so she left money in an insurance policy and we decided to go to celebrate Liam’s upcoming 21st birthday,” said Mrs Gradwell.

“Nicola had always wanted to go to New York. We had a fantastic time but now this has happened it has taken the gloss off everything.”

“We miss Nicola everyday and this has set us both back. I would appeal for anyone who has been offered the phone or any of the computer equipment to get in touch with the police,” said Mrs Gradwell.

“If someone has the phone, i would beg them not to delete the pictures or dump it. Just hand it in at a police station.

“The pictures and message are the last things I have to remember my daughter, they can never be replaced.”