Leeds teenager in care found hanged while under supervision

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A teenage boy in Leeds City Council care was found hanged in a tree in a park while under supervision of a care officer, an inquest heard.

Wakefield Coroner’s Court heard 14-year-old Callum Garland was being cared for at the Lingfield Approach care home in Moortown, which provides 24-hour supervision.

A risk assessment at the home stated Callum, who had a mental age of six, had little or no regard for his own personal safety and had a history of climbing trees and buildings.

The inquest heard Callum, who was 6ft 3in tall and weighed 15st, climbed a tree while at the park opposite Alwoodley Primary School off Cranmer Bank, Moortown, with care officer Jim Muchesa at around 5.30pm on August 6 2015.

Mr Muchesa told the inquest that he had tried to discourage Callum from climbing the tree and had been talking to him from the ground as he did so when Callum stopped responding.

Mr Muchesa told the inquest he climbed the tree and saw Callum hanging, adding: “I tried to prop him up, because of his weight I didn’t get anywhere.”

The inquest heard Mr Muchesa climbed down and called the care home at 6.24pm, before calling 999 at 6.37pm and telling the operator a boy was up a tree and refusing to come down.

Area Coroner Jonathan Leach asked him: “It seems that the controller has got the idea that Callum is stuck up a tree and can’t or won’t come down and that’s why they are sending the fire brigade.

“I don’t see any reference from you that he is not breathing?” Mr Muchesa said that he was in shock.

Mr Leach added: “There seems to be some considerable delay before you rang 999 and even when you rang 999 the urgency of he matter doesn’t seem to have been given to them. Do you accept that is the case?”

Mr Muchesa replied: “It was shocking. I have never been in a situation like that before.”

Callum’s mother Jacqueline Roberts asked Mr Muchesa: “My family is torn apart. Why did you let him climb the tree?”

The inquest heard Callum had climbed a tree earlier that day at the park when Mr Muchesa had taken him there to see his (Callum’s) girlfriend.

Forensic pathologist Professor Richard Shepherd said there was no evidence of restraint or holding and said that in his opinion Callum’s death was a result of hanging.

Support worker Ann Francis said she had known Callum for around two-and-a-half-years at Lingfield Approach.

She told the inquest: “Callum was a lovely young man, very charming and very loving. He thought the world of his family and enjoyed life.”

The inquest continues.

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