Cornwall

Ben Cowburn death: Inquest wait was 'too long'

  • 31 March 2014
  • From the section Cornwall
Sharon and Steve Cowburn
Ben Cowburn's parents, Sharon and Steve, waited more than three years for the inquest

The parents of a teenager who killed himself are writing to a coroner to criticise how long it took for an inquest to be held into his death.

Ben Cowburn, 18, from Truro, took his life in an adult mental health unit in Cornwall in December 2010.

A jury at his inquest last week reached an open verdict.

Sharon and Steve Cowburn said the wait had been "devastating" for the family. Cornwall coroner Dr Emma Carlyon said it was inappropriate to comment.

The teenager's death at Longreach House in Redruth was due to a "combination of shortcomings in his care", a jury ruled.

During the eight-day inquest, the jury heard Mr Cowburn had previously made 43 suicide attempts and the cause of his death was asphyxia, which was caused by an item he had smuggled into the unit.

Ben Cowburn
Ben Cowburn was admitted to Longreach House in Cornwall in October 2010

Mr and Mrs Cowburn said waiting "well over three years" had meant that evidence could have been missed or become unavailable.

Mrs Cowburn said: "It meant many staff were unable to recall events and that had to be accepted. It also meant some people couldn't be found or be called."

She added: "During the process we had no regular updates. I was always looking for reassurance that ultimately this was going to be held as our family was still grieving.

"This has now set us back as a family because we have had to go over the whole history all over again, three years later, in minute detail, in a public place."

Coroner Dr Carlyon said it was "inappropriate to comment on the conduct of the inquest".

After the inquest, the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said changes had been made since the death.

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