Coroner questions ‘pressure’ put on grandmother to keep troubled teenager safe

A mental health nurse says no policy changes have been made since the death of a troubled teenager who was able to walk off after expressing suicidal intentions at a counselling session.

Ellis Murphy-Richards, 15, told a member of NHS staff that he was having suicidal thoughts on September 30, 2020, but refused to go to A&E.

The transgender teenager – who lived with his grandmother in Faversham in Kent – walked away and died hours later after being hit by a train, his inquest has heard.

In court in Maidstone on Wednesday, the coroner questioned why “an awful lot of pressure” was put on his grandmother to keep him safe by NHS staff.

Ellis was described as a “delightful” person and keen TikTok user and his mother has expressed fears he may have been exposed to potentially harmful content on the app.

North East London NHS Foundation Trust (Nelft) is facing questions about why Ellis was able to leave on the day he died.

Speaking through tears on Wednesday, mental health nurse April Tume told the inquest that she “really, really cared” about Ellis.

She added: “I am very sorry that this has happened.”

Assistant coroner Sonia Hayes asked her if there is now any clarity should a similar situation arise in future.

Miss Tume replied that there have been “learning events” within the child and adolescent mental health team.

The coroner suggested there had been “no changes in protocols or policies”, to which Miss Tume said there were none that she was aware of.

Later, Ms Hayes emphasised she was “not blaming individuals” as she questioned a senior director at the Trust over what had been learned from Ellis’ death.

Ellis’ grandmother Sharon Murphy previously told the inquest he was as an “extremely intelligent” person who was “always talking about TikTok”.

Ms Murphy tearfully said Ellis was a “wonderful child”, adding: “He was kind, caring, he loved his family, loved his friends.

“He was delightful and I miss him.”

His mother Natasha Murphy, who has expressed fears that Ellis was exposed to harmful content on TikTok, said he was “a very happy person but unfortunately he had the impulsive behaviours as well”.

The inquest continues.

Help can be found by calling the Samaritans, free at any time, on 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org or visiting Samaritans.org.