Saturday, 10 October 2015

Coroner attacks vulnerable man's support

A housing association has pledged to work closer with partner agencies after a coroner attacked the support a vulnerable man received before he died after suffering years of abuse from neighbouring youths.

Peak Valley Housing Association said it had reviewed its practices and acknowledged the need to work closer with police and the council.

The landlord spoke after coroner John Pollard said that there had been evidence of ‘quite stunning degrees of inertia and complacency’ from bodies which were supposed to be supporting David Askew.

Mr Askew, 64, died in March last year after collapsing from a heart attack following an altercation with youths outside the home he shared with his mother and brother – who, like him, had learning disabilities.

The coroner said he was writing a rule 43 report to Tameside Council to draw his concerns to the attention of the chief executive.

The coroner said: ‘The fact that there were 38 separate offences reported as against this family as well as numerous unreported instances within a three year period shows the appalling way in which this element of feral youths can bring misery to a decent, vulnerable, family.’

The coroner singled out a Tameside Council community safety worker who, the coroner believed, was out of his depth.

The coroner said: ‘I intend to write to the chief executive of Tameside Council pursuant to Rule 43 of the coroners’ rules drawing to the attention of that authority the evidence that Mark Tunstall put before me which displayed a man who was clearly out of his depth in the job that he was doing and because of that the support that should have been available to the family was less effective than it could otherwise have been.’

Despite the CPS previously deciding there was not enough evidence to charge anyone in connection with the death, the coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing at an inquest on Wednesday.

Phil Corris, managing director of PVHA said the association had already put a number of safeguards in and had begun working closer with partners.

He said: ‘I think all of us involved in this very sad case would agree that the main lesson learned is to ensure agencies work together to identify vulnerable people within our communities and ensure that we are effective in protecting them. In the meantime, we continue to support the Askew family in every way we can.’

A Tameside Council spokesperson said that ‘disproportionate and unfair’ publicity had been given to statements made by a junior member of staff but that it would fully cooperate with the rule 43 report.

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