Tragic mum drowned herself after council refused to take in autistic daughter — (The Sun)

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The Sun

A STRUGGLING mum who couldn’t cope with her severely autistic daughter drowned herself the day after social services said they would not give her child residential care.

Carol Barnett begged Kent City Council for help with daughter Deborah, who was diagnosed with severe autism aged 18 months.

When she was refused aid the tragic mum, who struggled with depression and alcoholism, drowned herself in a nearby river, unable to cope with a child who needed round-the-clock care.

Ten-year-old Deborah is unable to speak, dress or wash herself, is incontinent and requires 24 hour supervision.

The 51-year-old phoned her husband to tell him her plan to commit suicide and despite rushing to the River Medway as fast as he could he found his wife lying dead in the water, an inquest heard.

Police later found her car parked nearby, her shoes on the river bed and two suicide notes in the family home in East Peckham, London.

Carol had suffered with alcoholism and depression since the birth of eldest son Sam, now 14, and her condition worsened after Deborah’s diagnosis.

Her GP, Vanessa Whillier, said: “Carol had episodes of depression after her first child and would drink on a daily basis. She didn’t take the diagnosis of her second child well. She took it really badly.”

Carol left behind husband Daniel, 51, and her two children after her suicide in June this year. Husband Daniel believes the social services meeting pushed his wife over the edge.

Speaking after the inquest, he said: “Carol kept asking about residential options but the social worker kept saying no. The next morning she took her own life.

“I can’t believe for one second that what happened in that meeting did not have any effect on her.

“I’m not saying it’s all social services’ fault, because it’s not, but I feel it really was the last nail in her coffin.”

Mr Barnett has resubmitted a request to Kent City Council for Deborah to be admitted to a residential facility but is also concerned for the wellbeing of his son.

He said: “He went to school one morning, came home and his mother was dead.

“He is obviously still coming to terms with this. He is coming second to Deborah because of her situation. He needs my support.”

A Kent County Council Spokesman said: “We have every sympathy with Mr Barnett. We have been discussing with him how to support Deborah in the best possible way and we have offered an extensive package of support to meet the needs of the family.

“At this time we do not feel a residential school is appropriate to meet Deborah’s needs.”