Narrative verdict in death of schoolboy

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A gifted teenager took an “impulsive” decision to hang himself after a family row, a coroner has ruled.

Leo Street, 14, was discovered by his father after storming upstairs after an argument and died eight days later when his life support machine was turned off.

Coroner Prof Paul Marks gave a brief narrative verdict at the end of a two-day inquest in Hull, concluding that the teenager, from Leven, had no intention of taking his own life and it was an “impulsive, reactive” response to his “dysfunctional family circumstances.”

There had been suggestions that the Beverley Grammar schoolboy may have been bullied by another pupil in the run up to his death in September 2014, but Prof Marks ruled that if “it did occur over and above any adolescent exuberance or banter it was not causative of the tragic events.”

He found no evidence that professional advice provided to Leo fell below acceptable standards.

Leo was described as “very gifted academically” with a “fantastic memory” who was “bursting with enthusiasm for every subject”.

In a statement his best friend William Shultz said the teenager “has an opinion about everything which he liked to share with everyone.”

He “was always happy”, he said, adding: “All Leo used to talk about were his plans for the future and he wanted to become a video programme designer and live in Japan - he was even learning Japanese.

“When I found out what happened I was really shocked - I didn’t see it happening.”

The inquest heard that Leo’s parents had found it hard to cope with his behaviour from a young age and asked for a psychiatric diagnosis in 2007.

Tests at the time ruled out a psychiatric disorder, a finding confirmed in court by an independent expert, Dr Charles Stanley, who was asked to review the case and how it had been dealt with by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS). Dr Stanley told the court: “I think the CAHMS service made a reasonable attempt to address the issues.”

Leo had expressed suicidal thoughts on two previous occasions, the last in 2013, which led to a review, but Dr Stanley said he didn’t believe his death a year later could have been predicted.

Det Con Elizabeth Burnett, who collated the witness statements, said a lot of help had been offered the family, but they were not happy with any of the GPs and social services were considered “useless” and turned away.

She added: “That troubled me really because I think they had asked for help and there was help out there, but it wasn’t being utilised.”