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My husband might be alive today if I had been allowed to speak to him

By Clare Weir

The devastated widow of a man who plummeted to his death from Cave Hill has spoken of her distress at not being able to talk to her husband in the hours leading up to the tragedy.

Louise Hooks (42) dashed to the breathtaking Belfast viewpoint on Tuesday within minutes of taking a distress call from her husband of five months, Sam.

But as police, who were called to the scene by Mrs Hooks, took the lead in communicating with Mr Hooks (41), it meant that she and two of his children from a previous marriage did not get the chance to speak to him.

She said: “He said he was at Napoleon’s Nose, he seemed upset but was trying to make peace. I rang the police and left work immediately. Two of his children went too. The police were there with helicopters but they wouldn’t let me speak to him again and he was found dead at 6pm.

“Part of me is telling me, ‘yes’ — if I could have spoken to him things might be different and part of me is saying ‘no’.

“It was very distressing for me that I did not get to speak to him.”

The widow of the Glengormley man told how this time last year they were enjoying a romantic Valentine’s weekend break — and now she is planning his funeral.

The couple tied the knot following a 18-month romance , but Louise’s dreams began to unravel when she took the phone call from Sam at 4pm on Tuesday.

“We don’t know what happened, he had been unwell but this was totally out of the blue,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.

“I just can’t believe he’s gone.”

Wedding photos adorn the mantelpiece of the Hooks’ marital home — but they are now joined by hundreds of sympathy cards.

“You fall in love with a person and then they are not here, how do you move on?” Mrs Hooks said.

“He loved his children and he loved me and everyone loved him.”

She added: “We only had a short time together. We were trying for a baby.”

Mr Hooks is also survived by his parents Carol and Samuel, sister Christine and children Samuel, Nathan, Ashleigh and Sarah.

His funeral will take place on Monday from his home at Cairngorm Crescent with a follow-up service at Burntollet Way in Cregagh, east Belfast.

A police spokesperson said: “Police, along with a number of other emergency services, responded to initial reports of a male in distress on the Cavehill on Tuesday. A specially trained police negotiator was also in attendance.

“In line with agreed protocol the office of the Police Ombudsman was informed and is investigating the circumstances. It would be inappropriate for police to comment further at this time.”

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