The parents of newlywed Kirsty Maxwell, who died in suspicious circumstances in Spain, have set up a charity to help relatives navigate foreign systems after a death abroad.

Kirsty’s mother Denise and father Brian Curry said they felt abandoned by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) when they arrived in Benidorm where their daughter fell to her death from a balcony. 

The 27-year-old died while on a hen party weekend and her parents found the ensuing lack of help “exacerbated” their grief and confusion over the circumstances surrounding her death.

Kirsty Maxwell who died after falling from a balcony whilst on a hen weekend in Benidorm

Brian said: “No family should ever have to experience what we have had to deal with however sadly it will happen again to others and we hope that what we have learned can be used to offer assistance, advice and support for other families having to deal with a death abroad.” 

Kirsty’s parents believe if they had been given more help, they may have been able to apply pressure and missed opportunities in the “shambolic” Spanish police investigation might have been avoided. 

The 27-year-old, from Livingston died on Saturday, April 29 2017, after plunging from the 10th floor of the Apartamentos Payma hotel at 7.51am, less than 12 hours after arriving for a hen party with 19 women. 

She had mistakenly entered an apartment which was occupied by five men from Nottingham celebrating a 50th birthday. 

Her family had to tell the FCO she was dead and find their own way to Spain.

The Maxwells arrived in Benidorm in the middle of the night and were left to flounder, grief-stricken and lost.

Kirsty Maxwell's dad Brian (middle) was shocked by the lack of support by the FCO

Brian said: “We didn’t know what we were doing, there was no help. We didn’t even know where to get a taxi.”

With no translation services or legal assistance, it took two days for them to track down Kirsty’s body.

They said when they did meet with a woman from the consular services, she was clearly “winging it” and the lawyer they hired from a list she gave them, turned out to be a property expert. 

Her father Brian Curry said: “Overall we felt emotionally mugged, financially fleeced and alienated.” 

In May 2017, the family hired David Swindle, of Justice Abroad, a Scottish former CID detective with 34 years investigating murders, to carry out their own inquiries in to Kirsty’s death but a botched police investigation meant vital evidence had been lost. 

Brian said the need for the charity was backed up by the findings of last year’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Deaths Abroad, Consular Services and Assistance (APPG) report. 

The APPG spoke to 60 UK families, including from Scotland, whose loved ones had either gone missing, been imprisoned or died abroad and their testimony was a damning indictment on the FCO.

Kirsty Maxwell plummeted to her death from one of the balconies at the Payma Apartments in Benidorm

Hannah Bardell MP set up the APPG after coming “against a brick wall” in seeking help for the families of her Livingston constituents including Kirsty’s family. Bardell said: “When a death happens overseas, the family left behind must navigate a foreign legal system, a language they do not speak, a foreign police force, unfamiliar geography, insurance issues, costs of travelling to the country of death or imprisonment to collect the body of their loved one or to visit them in prison and media intrusion.

“On numerous occasions, we listened in disbelief as grieving parents or spouses told us about horrific events, feeling lost and abandoned and simply hoping for a kind word from someone who could help them.”

Brian said: “We hope that what we learned by having to develop our own processes, identify and employ our own linguistic, investigatory and legal experts that we can help others unfortunate to find themselves in the same situation as we did.” 

The charity is clear it is not replacing but enhancing consular services, helping to access support, relevant expertise, and advice on organising a social media campaign and fundraise for assistance. 

The FCO said it gives “professional and empathetic support”.

To access the charity or donate see  kirstymaxwellcharity.co.uk

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