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Edward Barry inquest: Jury reaches verdict of misadventure
THE inquest into the unexplained death of 14-year-old Gravesend schoolboy Edward Barry has returned a verdict of misadventure.
Jurors spent around 30 minutes considering their verdict this morning, following a two-and-a-half-week inquest at Gravesend Town Hall.
Today coroner Roger Hatch said: "I'm sure the jury will join me in expressing my sympathy to the family."
Geoff Wybar, headteacher of Gravesend Grammar School (GGS), where Edward attended, said: “Regardless of legal outcomes and verdicts, nothing will restore a young life lost.
“The tragedy of Ed’s death will haunt his family and friends for eternity; no parents should have to bury their child.
“Ed’s friends at GGS will remember his intelligence, humour and sensitivity with great fondness.”
The jury six men and five women was told how Edward "hit rock bottom" when he stole £180 from his grandmother and admitted to his mother he was having sexual relationships with older men.
Edward's father Patrick Barry also presented evidence at the inquest, explaining how a youth worker told him social services were failing his son. A claim denied by Chris Grant, who worked closely with Edward.
And Edward's friend James Drummond, who found the teenager "incoherent, slurring his words and slumped," told jurors how he did not call an ambulance the previous night as he thought the youngster was drunk.
Paramedics were called to a flat in Parrock Street at around noon on November 20 where Mr Barry was pronounced dead.
A post-mortem examination the following day found a fatal level of methadone and traces of diazapam in the Gravesend Grammar School pupil's body.
The day before Edward's death, his best friend Jake Deveney told the jury how Edward was swigging methadone out of the bottle on the train to Dartford.
The teenager's social worker Vicky McCarthy admitted she was out of her depth and not fully qualified when she took on his case – one of 17 similar cases.
An e-mail sent nine minutes before the Gravesend Grammar School pupil was found dead pleaded with the police and social services to help him.
Angela Purdy, who is in charge of student support at the Church Walk school, said in an email: “I did not want to attend his funeral, he needs help now.”
A number of people close to Edward suspected he had injected heroin but there was no evidence to suggest anyone had witnessed this.
Coroner Roger Hatch told the inquest this morning: “Having heard the evidence over the last fortnight I do not conclude there sufficient evidence of a gross failure for the jury to consider in respect of social services and other agencies in relation to Edward’s death.”
He added: “I am satisfied that there’s no evidence which would amount to unlawful killing or Edward taking his own life.”
Before sending the jurors away to contemplate their verdict, he said: “You have heard witnesses give their evidence and answer your questions.
“You may recall and may record matters differently and it’s in the privacy of a room will what is relevant, from that you will find your verdict.”
He stressed the inquest was an “inquiry to find facts, not a trial”.