Derek Brundrett inquest: ‘Lack of consistency’ in care

Derek Brundrett
Image caption In the months leading up to his death, Derek had been taken into foster care

An inquest into the death of a 14-year-old boy in Pembrokeshire has heard there was a lack of consistency in his care.

Derek Brundrett was found hanged on Pembroke School grounds in December 2013.

The Coroner’s Court in Haverfordwest was told in the 20 months before his death he had several different social workers and foster carers.

He had also attended three different schools.

The court also heard how recommendations were made to refer the teenager to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services, but he never received treatment.

Sharon Reynolds, Derek’s social worker at the time of his death, gave evidence on the fourth day of the inquest.

Lloyd Williams QC, the barrister representing Derek’s mother, Kristina Wray, said there was a significant change of personnel when Mrs Reynolds came to work on “a very difficult case”.

‘Materialistic boy’

Mrs Reynolds described Derek as “remarkably resilient” and “very adaptable”.

But Mr Williams said it was clear “his feelings of hopelessness were related to his isolation” in foster care.

“He was desperate to go home {to his mother}. Don’t you think he would have been upset?,” he asked.

Mrs Reynolds said Derek was a “very materialistic boy” and “if he got his own way, his trainers, trips to McDonalds, he was happy”.

She said he knew the system and could get back to his mother when he wanted.

Mr Williams asked about a note written by another social worker, David Littlehead, who was concerned about Derek’s emotional state.

Mr Williams said when Derek was in the car with Mr Littlehead he told him he felt like crying and it was over the loss of a lighter.

He asked Mrs Reynolds how being in foster care caused Derek no emotion but losing a lighter had him in tears.

“It would have been significant for him at the time because he was a smoker,” she said, and that “the little things were important to him”.

‘Misplaced judgement’

Mrs Reynolds went on to say how Derek’s talk about jumping from a roof was “just bravado and his sense of humour.”

Mr Williams asked: “That’s how you interpret these events, as his bravado and his sense of humour?”

Mrs Reynolds said: “No, you’ve got to take a balanced approach and balance risk.”

“If you really believed that, your confidence in your judgement was entirely misplaced,” added Mr Williams.

The inquest continues.

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