Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Coroner rules death of 13-year-old Sammy Alban-Stanley was preventable

The coroner has ruled that the death of 13-year-old Sammy Alban-Stanley, who died after falling from a height at Ramsgate seafront, could have been prevented if he was provided with extra support.

Sammy, who had Prader-Willi syndrome and autism, died during the first lockdown after restrictions meant he could no longer attend his specialist school.

Sammy’s disability meant that he was prone to outbursts of risky behaviour. The inquest heard that Sammy had attempted to take his own life on multiple occasions, including an attempt to jump out of a moving car.

Sammy’s mother appealed to authorities on multiple occasions 

Sammy’s mother, Patrician Alban, said she had appealed to the authorities countless times for extra support, but never received any.

In a statement, she said: “I truly believe that a failure to provide us with adequate support led to Sammy’s death. Not only do I have to endure his loss, but also the loss of his future too.

“Whilst he had a great many struggles due to his disability fitting into this world, his soul was gentle and resonated the deepest, most resounding love I’ve ever known.

“He brought joy and comfort to all who knew him, changed people’s lives for the better, he made my life multi-dimensional and multi-coloured. He made the world a much nicer place.”

Failure from all the state agencies to recognise that Sammy needed more support

At the end of the nine-day inquest, the Coroner, Catherine Wood, said there was failure from all the state agencies to recognise that Sammy needed more support when he was unable to attend his school due to the pandemic.

She also criticised Kent County Council (KCC), social services and the mental health trust responsible for his care, North East London NHS Foundation Trust, for failing to:

  • Place Sammy into a specialist school soon enough (after a delay of more than a year);
  • Provide adequate support at the family home;
  • Offer Sammy specific treatment therapies for his conditions; and
  • Properly communicate with other services and the family.

Kent County Council accept the coroner’s findings

Ms Wood concluded: “I am satisfied on the evidence it is at least possible, if not probable, the failure to provide extra support to Sammy and his family contributed to his death.”

Matt Dunkley, KCC’s head of children, young people and education said the council “wholly accept” the coroner’s findings, adding: “We are grateful for her acknowledgment of our reflective analysis outlining the valuable lessons learned and subsequent interventions and improvements put in place within our children’s services.”

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