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Tragic Gravesend schoolboy Ed Barry went off rails after taking up free running, mother tells inquest

Edward Barry
Edward Barry

A mother told an inquest jury today how her bright teenage son who died following a drugs overdose went off the rails after taking up free running with older men.

Edward Barry was said to have become argumentative, rude, stole and was increasingly in trouble at home, school and with the police after beginning the extreme sport - a form of "urban acrobatics".

The former Gravesend Grammar School boy - known as Ed - was just 14 when he died in a Gravesend flat after drinking and taking drugs in November 2009.

His mother Justine Barry, of Pelham Road South, Gravesend, said Ed had a girlfriend - identified only as M - who had emotional problems. The pair were having sexual relations since they were 13.

She told jurors she repeatedly sought medical, psychiatric and eventually respite advice and help as Ed began self-harming and refusing to wash for weeks at a time.

She and her husband, Patrick, also sought help from Kent social services to recharge their batteries.

They wanted to get Ed away from local drug users and men who were alleged to have been sexually using him.

"The request was not successful," she said on several occasions.

Floral tributes to Edward Barry in Parrock Street, Gravesend
Floral tributes to Edward Barry in Parrock Street, Gravesend

Ed himself sought help from social service, but was also unsuccessful.

He wanted to go to a children's home, but walked out in anger when a social worker said it was "not like Tracy Beaker", said Mrs Barry.

A fatal dose was found in Ed's body when a post mortem was held shortly after the discovery in November 2009.

The coroner's counsel, Chris Sutton-Mattocks, revealed he had consumed valium and methadone.

Coroner Roger Hatch, sitting in Gravesend, originally ordered that Ed's home address should not be published.

But following representations by KentOnline, he lifted the ban on naming the street. Others to protect the identities of young witnesses remain in place.

The inquest is expected to continue for at least two weeks.

An inquest was originally opened in May 2010, but delayed when the case became embroiled in a row between KCC social services and the coroner.

The hearing was adjourned after KCC took the coroner to the High Court in a bid to stop the inquest.

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