AN inspirational Newport granddad who suffered double tragedy after his son was killed and death of his wife has channelled his grief into writing and has just had his first book published.
Bryn Fortey, 76, from Caerleon Road, was left heartbroken after his son Jim was killed in 2007.
Jim Fortey, a painter and decorator, was just 44 when he was stabbed to death as he painted a house on Caerleon Road by his friend, Kevin Price, who was later arrested and charged with murder.
In 2007 Price admitted the manslaughter of Jim on the basis of diminished responsibility and was detained indefinitely in a secure hospital.
But the loss of their only son proved too much for Mr Fortey’s wife, Maddalena. For four years he cared for his wife but she never recovered from the shock and grief, dying four years later.
Mr Fortey believes his wife died of a broken heart.
After her death in 2011, he was left distraught with no sense of purpose.
But he says taking up writing again allowed him to channel his grief and stopped him spiralling into despair.
He said: “As a youngster I was always interested in writing, and in the 1970s I had stories published in various anthologies. It was always a hobby but I never thought it would develop into something, it was just something I enjoyed.
“I wrote poetry as well for a while, but then of course life got in the way, as it tends to – I had my wife and family and I was working at Mccready Steel Stock Holding in Caerleon. Then, with what happened to my son, writing went completely out of the window.”
“After his death I concentrated on my wife. She never recovered from our son’s death. It took four years to kill her but it got her in the end.
“During that time I did not write, I didn’t do anything. I even stopped seeing friends, it was just me and her.
“I think looking after my wife was my way of coping with our son’s death, as it stopped me thinking about it.
“But when she died I found myself not only grieving for her, but for our son as well as I had been keeping that grief at bay for all those years.
“I felt completely lost.”
He says it was a chance phone call from someone researching an author who had also been published in the same anthologies in the 1970s that eventually led to him taking up writing again.
“There was a couple of coincidences” he said. “Just after my son died I had a call from a fellow called Johnny Mains, who was researching Mary Danby, the former editor of Fontana books.
"He was looking up writers who had written in this particular horror story series.
“It was a lovely telephone call and for a few minutes it felt like I was back in the seventies and the insanity going on around me was pushed aside for a few moments.
“To cut a long story short, I didn’t hear from him again for four years – he had lost my number but in 2012 he rang and apologised. He said he was contacting the authors again to see if they would be interested in going to The British Fantasy Society Convention in Brighton.
“Having just lost my wife I thought this might be a good thing, to get out of Newport for a couple of days.
“Through this I heard a couple of people who were looking for stories for anthologies. I thought to myself, what have I got to lose?
“I wrote a story and sent it in and it was accepted. I haven’t stopped writing since.”
Mr Fortley says he doesn’t label what he writes, but has written short stories on horror, science fiction and ‘everything in between’.
“I write what I find interesting,” he said.
Since that fateful phone call Mr Fortley has written a dozen short stories and has just had a short story and poetry collection published, combining his stories from the seventies with his newer material.
MERRY-GO-ROUND & Other Words by Bryn Fortey (The Alchemy Press), is available to buy on Amazon.
Failures let killer slip through the net
Price killed Mr Fortey at 1pm on August 4 after pulling him from a ladder where he had been working as a painter and decorator.
Mr Fortey was stabbed five times and died within minutes from wounds to his heart and lungs.
He and Price had been friends since they were 16 or 17 and had once been taxi drivers together
In 2009 a review of the mental heath care for Price prior to the stabbing revealed a series of failures allowing Price to slip through the net.
No individual was blamed in the review by the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) but it found although Mr Fortey’s death could not have been predicted, better care and treatment could have averted the likeliness of Price killing.
The Commission found a number of failings by the mental health services.
Price was allowed to get away with not always taking prescribed antidepressants and anti-psychotic medication and he was not diagnosed with schizophrenia until after being charged with Mr Fortey’s murder.
The review said that although Price could form relationships, before the incident he became delusional and reported an incident to the police about Mr Fortey in 2002, then becoming fearful his friend would know it was him and retaliate.
He told police he had stopped taking his medication for his mental condition and from then on Prichise's behaviour became bizarre and he thought he was being persecuted.
The former taxi driver became increasingly isolated, staying in his room with his curtains closed.
He believed Mr Fortey and his ex-landlord made videos of him to post on the internet and said he saw cameras in lampposts outside his parents’ house and thought people in the street were laughing and talking about him.