Concerns over delay in welfare check following death of father-of-two, inquest hears

The Coroners Court at Beacon House, White House Road, Ipswich

The Coroners Court at Beacon House, White House Road, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Questions have been raised over why it took emergency services more than three-and-a-half hours to conduct a welfare check on a 24-year-old father-of-two who was found hanged at his ex-partner’s flat in Bury St Edmunds.

An inquest into the death of Mark Harris, which started yesterday at Suffolk Coroners’ Court, heard his body was discovered by his former partner and mother of his children, Laura Manning, at her flat in College Mews on January 11, 2016. Mr Harris, described by his mother Donna as a ‘bubbly and hard-working’ man, had sent messages to Miss Manning the evening before his death saying he wished to end his life.

Area Coroner Jacqueline Devonish said: “When nothing was heard from him the following day his ex-partner telephones 999, the emergency services, asking for a welfare check. This was about 1.40pm in the afternoon. Police initially attended the address sometime after 2pm. The ambulance service also attended, this was some time after 4pm.”

She said emergency crews entered the property at around 5.20pm when Miss Manning arrived at the scene.

The inquest heard the couple had a turbulent and sometimes violent relationship and that Mr Harris had suffered from depression and had been diagnosed with ADHD.

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Miss Manning told the inquest she had visited Mr Harris at her flat, where he was living, on the morning of his death.

She said she left the flat at around 11am and that Mr Harris said he would text her when he got to work at 1pm.

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When he did not receive a message, she called 999 asking for an ambulance crew to go round and check on him.

She said she told the operator he had threatened to kill himself and that they had her permission to break into her flat.

She told the inquest she had not heard back from emergency services so went round to the flat herself. However, some details of her testimony were challenged by barristers representing the ambulance service who said she may have been mistaken due to the shock of her discovery.

The inquest also heard that the 999 call handler had not passed on information to crews that Miss Manning said they could break into her flat and also gave them the wrong surname for Mr Harris.

The inquest, which is set to last five days, continues today.

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