Jury returns misadventure verdict at inquest of Gravesend teenager Ed Barry after drugs death
Ed Barry was 14 when he
died at a flat in Gravesend
by Thom Morris
A jury has today returned a verdict of death by misadventure at
an inquest into the death of Gravesend teenager Edward Barry.
After more than two weeks of proceedings – which saw questions
asked of police, social services, friends and family – the jury
concluded deliberations at the Old Town Hall in Gravesend.
Edward, known to his friends as Ed, was found dead in a flat in
Parrock Street, Gravesend, in November 2009.
The teenager, of Pelham Road South, Gravesend, was just 14.
The Gravesend Grammar School pupil (pictured right) had
died as a result of the combined effects of methadone and diazepam
Coroner Roger Hatch, who this morning outlined all the
evidence given over the last fortnight, expressed
his sympathies but made no further comments.
He said: "I'm sure the jury will join my in expressing sympathy
to the family."
Geoff Wybar, head teacher at Gravesend Grammar School, said
today: "Regardless of legal outcomes and verdicts, nothing will
restore a young life lost. The tragedy of Ed's death will haunt his
family and friends for eternity; no parents should have to bury
"Ed’s friends at GGS will remember his intelligence, humour and
sensitivity with great fondness."
Ed - whose family and teachers had pleaded with police,
health and social services to help him - was found dead in
recovering heroin addict James Drummond's flat in Parrock
The 29-year-old told the inquest he did not bother
calling an ambulance in the hours before Ed died because
he thought he was drunk.
Mr Drummond said he had kicked heroin four years before Ed's
death, but was on prescription methadone.
He first met Ed in Lord Street car park, Gravesend, a popular
spot for skaters.
He invited him back to his Parrock Street flat one day and they
smoked weed, watched television and played computer games.
He said: "Sometimes he'd stay; sometimes he'd come and smoke a
joint for an hour."
By November, Ed had effectively moved in and was sleeping on a
Mr Drummond added: "The first time he just ended up crashing
there, but after that he said he was having problems at home and
couldn't live there so I said he could stay at my flat for a period
"I'd like to state that I never asked him for any money, I was
just trying to help."
The night before his death, Mr Drummond said Ed was devastated
about the break up with his girlfriend and was crying and punching
The next day the pair left the flat. Mr Drummond left to visit
his mother and grandmother while Ed, who did not have a key to get
back into the flat, headed to a skate park in Dartford.
Returning at about 10pm, Mr Drummond found Ed had made it
through the communal front door and was slumped by his door
He added: "He was passed out outside my flat. I dragged him in
and put him in the recovery position and put a pillow under his
head and covered him in a blanket."
Mr Drummond, who said he had never seen Ed so intoxicated, then
drank until 2am and checked Ed roughly every 45 minutes.
"I said 'you alright?' and he said 'yeah' but he couldn't really
talk properly. He didn't move throughout the night and he wasn't
moving around a lot.
"I believed he was under the influence of alcohol, but not hard
"He'd had too much to drink and would sleep it off. If I saw
signs of him using hard drugs I would have called an
At about noon the next day, Ed remained in the same position and
when Mr Drummond checked on him, he was cold to the touch. He
"I was pretty sure he was deceased and I told the person on the
phone that, ‘I'm pretty sure he's dead’."
A bottle of half-empty methadone was found on the kitchen
counter about six feet from where Ed was found dead.
A post mortem revealed Ed died from a fatal overdose.
Mr Drummond insisted he never gave Ed the drug and if he had
taken it, he would have taken it during the night without his
An inquest was originally opened in May 2010, but delayed when
the case became embroiled in a row between KCC social services and
The hearing was adjourned after KCC took the coroner to the High
Court in a bid to stop the inquest being heard by a jury, and if it
did go ahead, how they should be directed.
Judges ruled in October the inquest should go ahead with a
An inquest jury does not apportion blame to anyone and it is not
their function to express any judgement or opinion.
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