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Vulnerable suicide victim Catherine Barrett had formed forbidden relationship at Bridge House rehab centre in Dartford

Old Town Hall in Gravesend
Old Town Hall in Gravesend

A vulnerable young woman who formed a relationship with a staff member at a detoxification unit killed herself just weeks after discharging herself from the centre, an inquest heard.

Catherine Barrett hanged herself from the loft hatch at her flat in Lane Avenue, Greenhithe.

The 27-year-old had been undergoing treatment at Bridge House, in Dartford, where she met support worker Gregory Dassrath.

The four-day hearing at Gravesend Old Town Hall heard relationships between staff and "clients" were forbidden, including after patients had been discharged.

However, Mr Dassrath - who has since resigned from the unit in Bow Arrow Lane - admitted at the inquest they had formed a relationship after she discharged herself in April 2011.

He said it became a sexual one a month later. Miss Barrett's body was found on May 26 that year.

The inquest heard that both Mr Dassrath, of Ribblesdale Road, Dartford, and Miss Barrett had been spoken to by senior staff after other patients raised concerns about them. However, both denied anything was going on.

Mr Dassrath also maintained while giving evidence he had not started a relationship with Miss Barrett while she was at Bridge House undergoing detoxification from methadone and diazepam.

The jury of five women and four men heard Mr Dassrath had started working at Bridge House in 2010, when they were short-staffed.

In his summing up, North West Kent coroner Roger Hatch said he had been transferred from his previous employers "due to problems over boundary issues with patients".

Mr Dassrath resigned in November 2011 and had attended disciplinary hearings.

He was not at the hearing when the jury returned a majority verdict of suicide while the balance of Miss Barrett's mind was disturbed.

The cause of death was given by Home Office pathologist Dr Peter Jerreat as suspension. Traces of morphine and alcohol were also found in her body. There was no note.

"The trust was not aware of a relationship with Mr Dassrath. Any such relationship between trust employees and service users is not permitted..." - Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust

Her neighbour, Donna Tall, said she heard sobbing coming from Miss Barrett's flat on May 25 and the sound of an object being dragged across the floor.

The next day, Mr Dassrath arrived asking if she had seen Miss Barrett.

He returned later that day and Ms Tall said she heard him shouting that Miss Barrett had hanged herself.

Miss Barrett's mother, Susan, of Fens Way, Swanley, also arrived at the flat to find police and an ambulance.

The inquest was told that on May 25, Miss Barrett remarked to her mum that Mr Dassrath had called the police after she kicked his car.

Mrs Barrett spoke to her daughter for the last time later that day.

She described it as a "whispered" phone conversation in which Miss Barrett claimed someone was outside her flat.

She tried to contact Miss Barrett throughout the evening but got no response.

The next morning, Mr Dassrath telephoned to say he could not find Miss Barrett and they arranged to both go to her home.

Police found no evidence of a disturbance or third party involvement.

Miss Barrett also suffered from bipolar disorder and had been treated at Bridge House on two previous occasions, in 2009 and 2010.

Bridge House is run by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and offers a detox service to people with drug and/or alcohol dependencies.

Detox manager Joe O’Rourke described Miss Barrett as "very vulnerable", but said she felt "safe" at the unit as staff had never judged her.

However, the inquest was told Miss Barrett discharged herself several days earlier than planned and against all medical advice.

She had completed her detox from methadone, but only partially from diazepam.

The inquest heard Mr Dassrath was not involved in the medical care of patients at the unit and that Miss Barrett was not allocated to him.

Mr Dassrath said after she discharged herself they had met up and joined a gym.

However, Mr Dassrath said he had not considered their relationship to be long term and would change the subject if Miss Barrett talked about marriage.

A spokesman for Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust said after the inquest: "The trust would like to express its condolences to Catherine Barrett's family.

"The trust was not aware of a relationship with Mr Dassrath. Any such relationship between trust employees and service users is not permitted."

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