Teenager who accidentally killed himself at Wetherby prison ‘let down by system’

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A teenage prisoner who accidentally killed himself after years in foster care was let down by the “collective corporate system” an inquiry has found.

Ryan Clark, 17, was on remand after being arrested on suspicion of two robberies when he was found hanged in his cell at Wetherby Young Offender Institution in April 2011.

An inquest in January 2014 heard his actions were a “cry for help” because of bullying he was suffering rather than a genuine suicide attempt.

The jury, who heard Ryan was terrified of a long custodial sentence, concluded a string of failures contributed to his death.

A serious case review, which was carried out because he died in custody, was published today.

Looking into Ryan’s life since the age of 13, when a long-term foster placement broke down, it concluded his death could not be predicted, but staff were were “insufficiently alert to [his] emotional turmoil”.

It added: “At a personal level, the collective corporate system let Ryan down despite the best efforts and good intentions of individual members of staff. There was no one person who assumed responsibility for Ryan as a looked after child.”

Jane Held, chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, said Ryan “could have had better support” but added she was confident changes had been to “prevent such tragedies in the future”.