Monday 27 March 2017

'Grave concerns' over review of teen's drug death in HSE care

Breda Heffernan and Georgina O'Halloran

THE family of a teenager who died from a suspected drugs overdose while in a Health Services Executive (HSE) aftercare programme said they have "grave concerns" about a proposed review of his case.

Danny Talbot (19) was living in a homeless hostel in Dublin when he died in August 2009. He had been in care since the age of nine following the death of his father.

Speaking after a brief hearing of the inquest into his death at the city's Coroner's Court yesterday, his aunt Donna Lamb said any inquiry must go far beyond the cause of his death and look at his history with social services.

"To us, it goes much further. We want a full public enquiry into the handling of the Danny Talbot case," she said.

"When he was looking for help and when we were looking for help for him, we were making up to 30 calls a day.

"In our opinion Danny was failed by the State right from the time he was born through to his death," she added.

Meeting

Danny's death is one of the cases to be considered by a review panel investigating the deaths of children while in care. His family is seeking a meeting with the chairwoman of the panel, Dr Helen Buckley, in order to establish how it will conduct the review.

The court heard yesterday that the family had "grave concerns" about the review.

Brian Barrington, counsel for Sandra Lamb, another aunt and Danny's next of kin, said: "While it does have some independent people on its panel, it has some serving members of the HSE and serving members of the HSE would not meet (the criteria) of independence.

"We don't know how the next of kin will be involved ... and we are not aware whether the HSE will get to redact the report," he added.

He told the court that the family has written a letter to Dr Buckley asking 21 questions to assess the extent to which the review panel meets the basic criteria of the European Convention on Human Rights.

He applied for an adjournment of the inquest to allow the family to engage with the panel.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell adjourned the inquest to September 24, when a further mention hearing will be held.

Donna Lamb said the family would not stop until they got "truth, justice and accountability".

"We think if the HSE had listened earlier, Danny would still be here today.

"It's almost a year since he died and we're still devastated ... our hearts are broken. There are nights we go to bed and cry ourselves to sleep," she added.

Ms Lamb said the family was planning to hold a national day of commemoration for all the children who have died while in State care.

Irish Independent

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