The film and Vincent’s life inspired musician Steven Wilson’s album Hand.
In 1985, Vincent began working as a secretary at OCL in the City of London. She then worked at C.Itoh and Law Debenture before joining Ernst & Young. She worked in the treasury department of Ernst & Young for four years, but resigned in March 2001 for unknown reasons. Shortly afterwards, Vincent spent some time in a domestic abuse shelter in Haringey and worked as a cleaner in a budget hotel. During this period, she became estranged from her family. A source involved in the investigation said: “She detached herself from her family but there was no bust up.
As a victim of domestic violence, Vincent was moved into a bedsit flat above Wood Green Shopping City in February 2003. The flat was owned by the Metropolitan Housing Trust and was used to house victims of abuse. In November 2003, after vomiting blood, she was hospitalised at North Middlesex Hospital for two days due to a peptic ulcer.
Vincent died of unknown causes around December 2003. She was an asthma sufferer, and an asthma attack, or complications surrounding her recent peptic ulcer, have been suggested as a possible cause of death. Her remains were described as “mostly skeletal” according to the pathologist, and she was lying on her back, next to a shopping bag, surrounded by Christmas presents she had wrapped but never delivered. It is not known to whom the presents were addressed, and the police report regarding the case has been disposed of.
The Metropolitan Housing Trust said that due to housing benefits covering the costs of rent for some period after Vincent’s death, arrears had not been realised until much later. The Trust also said that no concerns were raised by neighbours or visitors at any time during the two years between her death and discovery of the body.
Vincent’s remains were too badly decomposed to conduct a full post-mortem, and she had to be identified from dental records. Police ruled death by natural causes as there was nothing to suggest foul play: the front door was double locked and there was no sign of a break-in. At the time of her death she had a boyfriend, but the police were unable to trace him. Her sisters had hired a private detective to look for her and contacted the Salvation Army, but these attempts proved unsuccessful. The detective found the house where Vincent was living, and the family wrote letters to her.
A film about Vincent, Dreams of a Life, written and directed by Carol Morley with Zawe Ashton playing Vincent, was released in 2011. Morley tracked down and interviewed people who had known Vincent.
Erase., would be based on the life of Vincent. According to Wilson, he was inspired to create a concept album after seeing Dreams of a Life. From the book that accompanied the deluxe release of the album it is clear that the central character is a highly fictionalised version of Vincent: she is born on 8 October 1978 to an Italian mother and dies or disappears 22 December 2014.
Source: Joyce Vincent