Missed Opportunities For Teenager Who Took Her Own Life

Expert Lawyers From Irwin Mitchell Instructed By Family

27.11.2015

The family of a teenager who took her own life despite being known to be at risk of suicide have instructed specialist lawyers to investigate her treatment following the conclusion of the inquest into her death.

Laura Newlands was just 15-years-old when she took an overdose of her father’s medication at her family home in Rhyl, Denbighshire on 12th August 2011.

Laura had earlier expressed suicidal thoughts and after a stay in hospital in May 2011 was sent to live with her Aunt in Doncaster on social services’ recommendation. However she returned home for her brother’s birthday the following month with the approval of social services. She was found dead in her room in August.

Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have been instructed by Laura’s family to investigate her care by Denbighshire County Council social services.

A five-day inquest into her death concluded today (27th November) at Ruthin Coroners Court. HM Coroner John Gittins recorded a suicide verdict and also highlighted a number of concerns in a Regulation 28 report (prevention of future deaths) for the following improvements to be made into the services:

  • Strict timetable for meetings and follow up meetings with authorities – there was a delay in social services seeing Laura;
  • Concern in the procedure of discharging patients from hospital;
  • Independent assessments must be carried out by senior members of staff involved in the care of patients when closing all cases.
Expert Opinion
“Laura’s family have been left completely heartbroken following her death and they have been searching for answers ever since.

“Although it has been very difficult for them to hear the evidence, we hope that the inquest has finally given them some closure and clarity as to the care Laura received in the weeks leading up to her death.

“The Coroner has highlighted a number of key areas in his Regulation 28 report which we hope that the Denbighshire County Council social services will take into account to ensure that no other families have to face the traumatic ordeal Laura’s has.

“We will continue our work on behalf of Laura’s family to investigate the circumstances in which she died and confirm whether there are any lessons which should be learnt by the agencies and authorities involved.”
Fiona McGhie, Associate

Laura and her family lived in Doncaster for several years before moving to Denbighshire. In May 2011, Laura was taken to Glan Clywd Hospital after it was suspected that she may have taken an overdose of her mother’s medication – she was hospitalised for seven days and Denbighshire social services were involved in planning Laura’s discharge.

After staying in hospital for seven days it was agreed that Laura should return to Doncaster to live with an Aunt to help protect her while she was vulnerable. However in June she returned to Denbighshire for her brother’s birthday and did not return to Doncaster.

A few weeks later in August 2011, Laura was found dead in her room after taking an overdose. 

Expert Opinion
“The family would like to thank the coroner for conducting a thorough investigation into the circumstances leading up to her death and they feel that we finally have some answers as to what happened. They hope that any improvements that can be made are identified to prevent others from suffering as Laura did.”
Fiona McGhie, Associate