Boy hanged himself in children's home near Chesterfield after prolonged sexual abuse

A teenager who hanged himself in a children's home died 'as a tragic result of a cry for help' following prolonged sexual abuse by a carer, an inquest heard.

Monday, 11th December 2017, 3:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:52 am
The inquest was heard at Chesterfield coroners' court.

Despite resuscitation attempts, Aaron Leafe passed away in Ivy Cottage Children's Home, Old Tupton, on June 12, 2010.

He was just 15-years-old.

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During the conclusion of Mr Leafe's inquest on Friday, coroner James Newman said 'opportunities to identify or challenge' the abuse were missed.

Chesterfield coroners' court heard Mr Leafe was a 'complex adolescent' whose early childhood was dysfunctional.

He was taken into care at the age of 11.

Mr Newman told the inquest: "While within the care setting, Aaron was the victim of prolonged grooming and sexual abuse by a carer, which was associated with increasingly frequent absconding and self-injury.

"Despite concerns being raised regarding an improper relationship, contact continued even after Aaron was moved across care settings and county boundaries.

"Opportunities to identify or challenge the abuse were missed due to a breakdown in interagency communication, a lack of appropriate agencies attending appropriately convened meetings and an over-reliance upon disclosure from Aaron.

"This, I find, resulted in a delay in identifying the abuse.

"Aaron's absconding and self-injury were considered to be characteristics of Aaron, rather than an indication of underlying concerns."

The court heard how there were 'further significant life events' in the weeks before Mr Leafe's death.

These led to him being moved to another home and facing criminal charges and his emotional state was affected.

Mr Newman added: "On the evening of June 12, 2010, while the home was understaffed, Aaron signposted actions that he intended to take and was subsequently found suspended by a ligature.

"While I do find that Aaron placed the ligature around his neck, intent is lacking in this case and I find that Aaron died as a tragic result of a cry for help - as he had done in the past - but that he was not discovered before the effects of his actions resulted in his death."

Following the inquest, a spokesman for Keys Childcare - which owns Ivy Cottage Children's Home - said: "This was a tragic end to a young life and incredibly sad for everyone involved, particularly for Aaron's family and friends.

"We take our responsibilities to the children we care for very seriously.

"Following Aaron's death, we, along with other involved agencies, took part in a full review of the circumstance leading to Aaron's death.

"As a consequence, we have taken the learning and enhanced our already robust care processes.

"We have a good track record in providing positive outcomes for the children and young people in our care and do our utmost to ensure that they are safe."

The carer who abused Mr Leafe is currently behind bars.