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Final days of struggling teen found dead after being left to fend for herself

A heartbroken mum told of her devastation after hearing about her teenage daughter’s final days at an inquest hearing on September 2.

Mum-of-four Kate Reilly, 38, spoke out after the virtual inquest held at Bradford Coroner’s Court, which was held into the death of 19-year-old Courtney Lonsdale.

Assistant coroner Oliver Longstaff heard how the college student studied Childcare Studies and dreamt of attending university but was tragically found dead at her flat in Halifax on March 2, 2020.

Police officers explained how they had gone to her home on the afternoon of March 2 after being informed of concerns for her welfare, as she had not been seen for a couple of days, and found Courtney’s body along with handwritten suicide notes, reports Yorkshire Live.

The court heard how Miss Reilly had Courtney when she was just 16 years of age. She was in an abusive relationship and was forced in 2010 to give up her three children into foster care in order to protect them.

Miss Reilly, who said she was from a ‘travelling family’, claimed that Courtney had suffered mental and physical abuse while in foster care.

She said her children were placed with “middle-class folk” who they could not identify with and whose first action had been to cut her two daughter’s very long hair into more easy-to-manage bobs.

Miss Reilly said Courtney was “a mixed-up, confused little girl with a mental age of 12” and had been given a flat aged 17 and left alone with financial worries and was behind with her rent.

She told the hearing: “I’m terribly disappointed in the system. I will leave no stone unturned to get justice for my daughter, Courtney.”

The court heard a friend of the deceased, Rhys Barratt, had seen messages on her Snapchat saying that “she didn’t want to be here anymore.”

Dr Sohail Ahmed, Courtney’s GP of Woodside Surgery, Halifax, said Courtney had been diagnosed with depression in January 2019 and had previously tried to take her own life.

The court heard further evidence from Ms Hughes, a mental health practitioner with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust that Courtney had a history of self-harm since 2013 that involved cutting herself and at one point had to be restrained by a police officer from jumping off a roof.

Ms Hughes, who is now retired, said: “She felt overwhelmed by her problems.”

And Susan Holden who worked for Prospect, a company commissioned by Calderdale Council to provide support for young people up to the age of 25 through the Pathway programme, said she had become known to the care team in May 2017 when she was 16.

Staff visited Courtney several times in 2019 with the last visit being in February 2020.

Mr Longstaff said: “The court has heard something of the concerns that her mother has for Courtney’s stay in foster care when she was a child.

“These are not concerns that I am in a position to investigate because in terms of the chronology of Courtney’s life the issues referred to by Miss Reilly and Courtney, herself, predate March 2020 by some time.

“I think it’s important to record that the act that Courtney took is different in nature from the previous incidents of self-harm, cutting herself, and the two occasions of an overdose in December 2019.

“In my mind, there are strong indicators that she intended the consequences. She was discovered alone in a flat and there was no third-party involvement.

“It’s also important that I refer to notes recovered from the scene.

“I can say this much that having read them they are indicative of upset on Courtney’s part at the progress or lack of progress in a relationship and it makes for very moving reading.”

His conclusion was that she took her own life.

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Where to get help if you’re struggling

Samaritans: Phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email [email protected], in confidence

Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and won’t show up on your bill

Platform 1 men’s community group: Support for issues including mental health problems and addiction recovery. Visit the website or call 01484 421143.

Andy’s Man Club:[email protected]

PAPYRUS: A voluntary organisation supporting suicidal teens and young adults. Phone 0800 068 4141

Mind: A charity offering support and advice for people with mental health problems.

Students Against Depression: A website for students who are depressed, have low mood, or are suicidal. Click here to visit

Bullying UK: A website for both children and adults affected by bullying. Click here

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): For young men who are feeling unhappy. There’s a website and a helpline: 0800 58 58 58

MindOut: Provide support and advice on mental health for members of LGBTQ communities. Phone 01273 234839

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