Schizophrenic was found dead by river

Parents angry at handling of teen's case, inquest told

BY SOPHIE HAZAN

A teenage paranoid schizophrenic who threw herself from a first-floor window was later found dead on a Leeds riverbank, an inquest heard.

Holly Taylor, 16, jumped from her bedroom at the Little Woodhouse Hall Adolescent Unit in Leeds on Friday January 7 in 2005, Leeds's deputy coroner Robert Chapman said.

The teenager, who had been detained there under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act, was found dead four days later on the banks of the River Wharfe at Boston Spa, he said at day one of a three-day hearing.

A passing workman spotted her body draped in a tree – heavy flooding had previously concealed Holly, but as water levels receded she was exposed, the court heard.

Holly was pronounced dead on Tuesday, January 11 2005.

Her mother Amanda Slack, of Kirby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, has since lodged a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (ICPP) over "inconsistencies" and the handling of the investigation by West Yorkshire Police.

Holly's father, Mark Taylor, of Raynville Crescent in Bramley, Leeds, said: "Holly's case went into a pile and as I understand it, because of her mental health, should have gone to the top, but it didn't, it went to the bottom.

"A vital opportunity that could have saved Holly just went by the roadside. That was a failure to comprehend the gravity of the situation."

Holly, known to have used ecstasy, amphetamine, alcohol and cannabis, spent the last year of her life in and out of hospitals and mental health units in the Nottingham and Leeds areas.

Absconded

She absconded repeatedly, once telling her mum she would go to Roundhay Park in Leeds and jump in the lake there, the coroner heard.

Holly developed a number of "odd" characteristics, including multiple personalities, aggressive behaviour and a fascination with water and underground tunnels, Mrs Slack said.

She added: "She thought she was some other kind of being, and "her" people lived underground – she would examine drains when we were out."

In 2002 Holly's best friend died from toxic shock syndrome, then in 2004 two other friends were killed in a fatal road traffic collision, the court heard. Her parents had divorced when she was one. Her father moved to Leeds in 1999.

In the month prior to her death her medication was changed due to side effects which were making her put on weight, Mr Taylor said. Withdrawal from the prescribed drug caused "real mental pain", he said.

A post-mortem conducted by pathologist Sally Lane at Leeds General Infirmary revealed all her injuries were consistent with drowning and her fall from the hospital window.

sophie.hazan@ypn.co.uk

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