No system to report Gravesend schoolboy Ed Barry, 13, was injecting heroin, inquest told
by Alan Watkins
Social workers dropped a 13-year-old drink-dependent drug
user from their books and did not tell other care agencies before
he died from an overdose, an inquest jury learned today.
A letter confirming the move was written only weeks
after they were first asked to help the parents of Ed Barry after
he became uncontrollable at home in Gravesend in 2009.
It was revealed by the family's barrister, Brian Cummins,
questioning of the one care worker who Ed would talk to today.
But the worker, Patrick Grant, a part-time expert in adolescent
said it was one of several letters, emails and comments from
social services that he never saw.
An inquest jury is investigating the reasons why Ed, of Pelham
South, died from a mixed overdose of drugs and drink eight months
after carers first became aware of his slide out of control.
Mr Grant revealed he had not see any assessments of Ed's
behaviour and was unaware a child psychiatrist had recommended
he should be kept in secure accommodation.
The boy's parents had been seeking respite from his behaviour,
but Mr Grant said he was unaware of the recommendation.
He told the inquest he would have based his work at the
Adolescent Resource Centre (ARC) in Gravesend on the
Mr Cummins commented: "It paints a picture, doesn't it."
At some point during the year Kent social services worked on
Ed's case, but it was not until five months after he first
encountered the boy that Mr Grant realised they were involved.
They declined to attend any case meetings with the ARC staff, he
Earlier, jurors were told there was no set procedure
for reporting a young teenager was injecting heroin.
Mr Grant said Ed had admitted injecting drugs when they
were talking in October 2009.
He did not say what he used, but from the evidence he thought it
Chris Sutton-Mattocks, counsel for the
coroner at the jury inquest in Gravesend, asked Mr grant: "Did you
have a duty to tell the police that you suspected a
13-year-old was taking drugs?"
Mr Grant replied: "I am not aware of any categorical point
of requirement, but I was not averse to doing it, and had done so
He told the coroner's jury he first talked to Ed in March
Ed is said to have frequently missed appointments, but had
said he would not work with Mr Grant if he did not get him out of
his parents' home.
He explained the most important thing for him was to get away
from his parents for two or three months "to allow their
relationship to improve."
He also said he was frustrated because no one was listening to
As the summer progressed, the boy is said to have gone from
using cannabis and beer, to self-harming himself with many
cigarette burns on his arms, injecting codeine and taking a variety
of other drugs.
Mr Grant said he did not consider it was too much concern that
he was staying out until 6am.
"The fact was he came back so that was very positive even though
it was very late," he said. "At least he was coming back at that
He also considered he was bisexual, said Mr Grant.
Mr Sutton-Mattocks asked: "Did you ask him about his sexual
Mr Grant replied: "I believe I asked him what was the impact on
him socially and what would his peers think about it.
"He seemed to have too much confidence about it at that
He explained that Ed would sensationalise everything.
"He said he went to the Gay Pride Festival in London. He wasn't
worried about his sexual orientation."
Mr Sutton-Mattocks asked: "It put him more at risk, obviously,
but at this stage what of the other problems - did it concern
Mr Grant replied: "Not necessarily, no."
The inquest, expected to last two weeks, continues.
- Click here for more Gravesend news...
- Click here for more news from across the county...