Edward Barry inquest: Father told 'social services are failing your son'

This Is Local London: Edward Barry, who lived in Pelham Road South, Gravesend Edward Barry, who lived in Pelham Road South, Gravesend

THE father of a 14-year-old Gravesend boy who died of a drugs overdose was told by a youth worker that social services were failing his son, an inquest has heard.

Edward Barry was found dead at a flat in Parrock Street on November 20, 2009, with fatal levels of methadone and traces of diazepam in his body.

That morning his father Patrick claims his son’s youth worker Chris Grant, who worked with the teenager at the adolescent resource centre in Gravesend for eight months, was highly critical of social services.

Mr Barry told the inquest at Gravesend Town Hall on Tuesday that Mr Grant said to him over the phone: “I have to tell you social services are failing your son and they are failing you as parents.”

Today Mr Grant gave his version of the 43-minute phone call in which they were unaware Edward had died.

He told the jury of six men and five women: “I told Mr Barry there should be a complaints procedure he could access and use.”

Jurors were told Mr Barry was searching on Kent County Council’s website during the call.

“I told him he had a right to complain and have a right to legal representation,” said Mr Grant.

He then advised him to get in touch with the Children’s Legal Centre at the University of Essex, the inquest heard.

He added: “I sympathised with Mr Barry, from one parent to another, and showed understanding for the way he was feeling at the time.”

The jury was told Edward’s consultant psychiatrist recommended he be taken into social services accommodation.

An e-mail from the consultant to Kent County Council’s social services in July 2009 read: “In my professional opinion Edward would benefit from secure placement.

“I understand you are doing your best to find respite accommodation. “I think Ed does fulfill the criteria for secure social services based on ongoing behaviours.”

Mr Grant said he did not have “any concrete evidence of his drug taking” but said “he placed himself in dangerous situations, stayed out all night and was possibly self-harming.”

The inquest continues.

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