'We have to live with our ongoing grief' - inquest concludes into the death of George Hackney

The dad of a young man from Leeds who died after suffering from months of severe mental health problems has said he will "always have a heavy heart", after an inquest into his son's death was concluded.

By Richard Beecham
Friday, 13th May 2022, 4:45 am

George Hackney, 20, suffered two psychotic episodes in September 2019 and April 2020, before being found dead in the family home by his father in June 7, 2020.

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The inquest into his death at Wakefield Coroner's Court heard how George had also been suffering from delusions, as well as hearing voices, despite being previously healthy.

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George during happier times.

The second day of the hearing was told of how George had two "altercations" at the Beckley Centre in Leeds, where he was assessed after his initial psychotic episode, which made him reluctant to become an inpatient in future.

The court also heard how it was never entirely clear whether George was in fact being treated for cannabis-induced psychosis or schizophrenia. Representing George's family, Georgina Cursham told the court that George felt like he was in a "no man's land" between the two conditions.

Ms Cursham asked one of the authors of a report into George's case, Lyndsey Brown, whether she was satisfied that George had been "staying at home for the right reasons" following his second episode, due to his own fears around being readmitted to the Becklin Centre.

"This would have been a time with major bed shortages," Ms Brown responded. "It would have made his choice of where to go more difficult. This would have been a time where it would have been difficult to allay George's concerns."

The court was then told the care George received met minimum standards. But Ms Cursham said his formal care plan had not been reviewed after October 2019 and that George did not have any direct contact with a clinical psychologist for more than a month before his death. .

Concluding, coroner Oliver Longstaff said: "A distressing fact is that George developed a cannabis habit and he did it frequently. He felt it dealt with emotiuonal stresses in his life and after his psychotic episode he felt reluctant to stop using cannabis.

"I am satisfied that he was being treated for drug-induced psychosis, to which his cannabis use contributed.

"In the days immediately before he died, he said he considered hurting himself and others."

Mr Longstaff added that, while he was in no doubt George inflicted the injuries on himself, he was not convinced he was of sound enough mind to make the decision to end his own life. He went on to record a narrative verdict.

"He had a history of psychosis and hearing voices," Mr Longstaff said. "There is at least a realistic possibility that the state of his mind was such that he was not capable of forming the intent to take his own life."

The inquest was originally opened into George's death back in the summer of 2020, but had since been delayed for evidence to be gathered.

Speaking after the inquest, George's father Stephen said: "It's been hanging over us for a while now - this now draws a bit of a line in the sand for me.

"I had to go through his case notes again which was quite traumatic.

"I have to live with my ongoing grief - people say 'it's time to move on' but I am always going to have a heavy heart. When I try to enjoy myself, I feel guilty because of what happened to my poor son.

"George had a fairly stable background and when he struggled with his mental health he got help, but despite all that, it wasn't enough."