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5:31PM BST 09 May 2012
A privately-educated 13-year old boy died after taking a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol, an inquest heard.
Drew Quinlan was found by his grandfather face down on a sofa at his house in Richmond as he tried to wake him up to go to school in the morning, with a rigid jaw and froth coming out of his mouth.
The inquest heard he had the anti-depressant citalopram in his system – ten times the usual amount associated with therapy – as well as morphine and 110mg per 100mls of alcohol – one and a half times the drink drive limit.
The morphine had come from heroin and examination of his hair showed “occasional use or exposure” to the drug – though not regular use.
The same test suggested “the occasional use of citalopram by the deceased in the months leading up to his death”, though not regular use.
He spent his final day, 27 March last year, in the company of various members of his family, playing computer games with his uncle, and in the months leading up to his death was happier than he had been in years.
He had recently returned from a school trip to France and “in the last two weeks of his life was beginning to turn around his attitude to life itself”.
But the inquest heard he had a troubled family background. His mother, father, uncle and aunt were all heroin users and at some stage had used the anti-depressant, while his aunt and uncle were using it at time.
It also emerged that in the year before his death he had discovered the people he believed to be his parents were his grandparents, and that the woman he had thought to be his sister was his mother, but he had taken the news “really well.”
Drew originally attended the private Tower House school in Sheen, but was taken out after increasing difficulties following the 2010 death of the grandmother he believed was his mother.
He was then moved to a local state school before the Brantridge School in Sussex, a boarding school which specialised in children with behavioural difficulties.
He was known to social services and they were monitoring his situation. The child protection team had been informed.
Despite the family insisting they never took drugs in front of him and kept them behind locked doors, Detective Constable Andrew Merriman, of the Met’s child abuse investigation, said investigation showed “Drew was aware of where the drugs were kept and if he wanted to he could access them”.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, as a result of the combined effects of heroin, citalopram and alcohol intoxication, coroner Jeremy Chippenfield said: “Drew was an intelligent and spirited boy of 13.
“Whilst not always compliant with the express wishes of the adults around him, he was regarded as a loveable and a good boy and was loved by his family.
“Despite the recent traumatic events in his family, he was coping well in March 2011. He spent 27 March, the last full day of his life, almost entirely in the company of members of his family.
“All of them claim to be unaware that he used or acquired drugs while he was in their company, but somehow or from somewhere he did acquire them and probably took them in sufficient quantity to kill him.”
He added: “It is likely that he obtained these drugs from the supply of members of his family with whom he was in contact on the last day of his life.”