Sunday 22 October 2017

Danny was let down, says tragic teen's sister

Kathleen Kenny (right) and her daughter Gillian arriving at Galway Court for the trial.
Kathleen Kenny (right) and her daughter Gillian arriving at Galway Court for the trial.

Gareth Naughton

The sister of Danny Talbot, a teenager who died while in HSE aftercare, wants a judicial inquiry into his death.

At the inquest into Danny's death, counsel Breffni Gordon BL told the Dublin coroner the HSE have "done absolutely nothing" on foot of the family's request for a judicial investigation.

"Their behaviour is suggesting to the family in this case that the HSE are dealing with the situation as if the late Mr Talbot was a person of absolutely no consequence, that his life was of no consequence," he said. The HSE was not represented in court.

Danny (19) was found dead at a flat on Berkeley Street, Dublin 7 on August 4, 2009. Last year the children's agency Tusla apologised and acknowledged "considerable shortcomings" in his care.

Toxic

Legal representatives for Maria MacRae told Dublin Coroner's Court they will issue High Court proceedings in the coming days having received no response to their request for an independent judicial investigation.

It is understood the Ministers for Children and Youth Affairs and Health, the HSE, Tusla, Ireland and the Attorney General will be named as co-defendants.

The inquest heard Danny died as a result of the combined toxic effects of methadone, benzodiazepines and cannabis.

In a deposition read into the record at Dublin Coroner's Court, his aunt Sandra Lambe said there were early concerns about how Danny and his younger brother were being cared for.

At six years old Danny went to school with what he said were "love bites" on his neck and he displayed "inappropriate knowledge of sexual activity".

When his father Paddy Talbot was found dead by nine-year-old Danny at his flat in North William Street in November 1999, the Lambes discovered they had been living in "squalor".

The flat was covered in excrement with a large stack of pornography found in the bedroom. Both boys were wearing "filthy" clothing.

Ms Lambe said both were "feral", but Danny was harder to control. "He was wild and traumatised," she stated.

Danny went to live in foster care with family friends David and Anne Flood. Ms Flood gave evidence that she identified his body to gardaí after his death.

Danny grew "more and more aggressive, angry and uncontrollable" and by 2007 his foster placement had completely broken down. He was self-harming and taking drugs, said Ms Lambe. He was housed in emergency homeless accommodation and spent time in prison. In July 2009 he was released from prison to a homeless service for drug users and within days was back on drugs.

He "never stood a chance," Ms Lambe said. "Danny was let down by the State. He should have been protected from harm much earlier in his childhood."

The inquest was adjourned to March 25.

Irish Independent

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