Danny ‘was failed from cradle to grave’

THE family of Danny Talbot, a young man who died of a suspected drugs overdose shortly after leaving the care system, yesterday accused the HSE of failing him “from the cradle to the grave”.

His aunt, Sandra Lamb, accused the HSE of not allowing Danny to attend a meeting regarding his own care, which resulted in him putting his fist through a window and requiring hospital attention.

Speaking at a preliminary hearing at the inquest into his death, Sandra Lamb said a District Court judge had ordered that Danny, aged 19 when he died in August last year, receive aftercare until he was 23.

She claimed Danny did not have a social worker when he died and that she disagreed with HSE’s claims regarding the care he was provided.

Danny’s last address was at the Caretakers Hostel, Backlane, Dublin 8, when he died of a suspected drug overdose at Apartment 6.5, Berkeley St, Dublin 7.

His foster mother, Ann Flood, confirmed to the court yesterday that she identified his body at Marino Morgue at 11.41am on August 4, alongside Garda Kevin Brennan of Mountjoy Station.

Sandra Lamb said: “That child was failed all his life.”

Another aunt, Debbie, said Danny was only told the Sunday before his death that his key worker had left, and that she (his aunt) had itemised phone bills to show all the calls made regarding services promised to Danny but which she said were not provided.

The inquest at the Dublin City Coroner’s Court heard that Danny had lived the first nine years of his life in the William St flats with his father and brother.

Maeve Drummey, HSE principal social worker, told the court that Danny had been in the care system from a young age, initially in voluntary care under the Childcare Act 1991, then after turning 18 in aftercare services.

She said the Flood family had provided foster care to Danny for a period, which then broke down, before he returned to them again. She said prior to his 18th birthday Danny had difficulty engaging with services and there were difficulties planning services for him and that from 17 years the HSE was planning his aftercare.

The Social Work Department was still involved in his aftercare, she said, as was Focus Ireland.

Danny’s former foster parent David Flood said Danny was with them for about 12 years but that he had become involved in drugs.

“We have [child] at home [and] with his condition around her all the time our social worker thought it best to move him from the house,” he said.

Ms Drummey said Danny got huge support from his family but that he “was inclined to engage periodically” with services and that a number of placements broke down after days or weeks.

“At the time of his death he had been referred to a number of aftercare agencies but he was not engaging with any of them,” she said.

Solicitor for the Lamb family, Pól Ó Murchú, argued that Danny had been in the care of the HSE for many years and that this experience “had a profound effect on him and regrettably led to the circumstances of his death”.

Danny’s death is being reviewed by two organisations, one operating under HIQA guidelines, the other the Independent Review Group appointed by Minister for Children Barry Andrews.

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