A devastated mother who read of her daughter's death through a Facebook posting has made an official complaint to the police.
Cheryl Jones, 49, called her daughter's mobile in the frantic hope she would reply - only to be answered by a Gwent policeman.
Daughter Karla James, 30, collapsed and died at a flat in Tredegar, South Wales, less than a mile from her home, on July 23.
The stunned mother saw the Facebook tribute "RIP Karla", posted by her daughter's friends, before police found time to inform her officially. She revealed her heartache as Gwent Police confirmed it is investigating a formal complaint from both her and her local MP. But police have condemned the way Facebook was used to publicise the death, calling it "a sad indictment of today's society".
Mrs Jones said a nephew initially saw the Facebook posting and called her to find out what had happened. "I was in a terrible state. I kept asking my nephew what had happened but he didn't want to tell me. I suppose he wanted to save my feelings in case it wasn't true," she said. "Those few hours felt like a lifetime. The whole thing has felt like that. She was dead in that flat and I wasn't told."
She said that she then called her daughter's mobile phone only to be told by a police officer that someone would be round shortly. Mrs Jones accepts her daughter, once an aspiring model, had taken drugs such as heroin after getting mixed up with the "wrong circles".
The cause of her death remains unknown but it is understood toxicology tests were carried out on her body and an inquest will be held.
An official complaint has now been made to Gwent Police with the aid of Blaenau Gwent Labour MP Nick Smith. It criticises the time it took officers to contact Mrs Jones and the fact that no family member was sought to identify the body.
"Losing a child is every parent's worst nightmare. I can only imagine the grief and anguish Karla James's mother and family is suffering," Mr Smith said. "It must have been a great shock to hear news of her death on Facebook. I have asked the police to set out the action they took following Karla's death and I sent this account to Mrs Jones. I remain ready to help the family in any way I can."
In a reply to his letter passed on to Mrs Jones a Gwent police officer condemns the way Facebook was used in this case. "It was following attendance at Cheryl Jones' home address that it became apparent that Mrs Jones had learned of her daughter's death via an entry on Facebook," the letter states. "She was understandably very distressed. It is a sad indictment of today's society that an unknown individual made the decision to broadcast such tragic news without consideration for the family."