Narrative Verdict

I rise to call my first dead witness
Counsel may contest his fitness
for his part to testify
to tell you how he came to die
He leads a host of souls to tell
their stories from a bitter well
of negligence and ignorance
of culpable indifference
An inquest has been held for each
but now this hearing must impeach
the system which we’ll hear has let them
die for living on a spectrum

Step forward, Connor Sparrowhawk
The Laughing Boy who loved to talk
of London, buses, trucks and lorries
In his teenage years his worries
led him to a place of care
to help his mental health but where
they left him in the bath and found
when they returned, that he had drowned
Now Connor speaks on through his mum
who fought for justice – fought and won –
and proved the truth, though so lamented:
dying could have been prevented
Asked what LB would have said
Mum Sara gave voice to her dead
son’s passion for deliberation,
detail of investigation
He’d be pleased, would Sara’s son
to see some justice being done

But after Connor, sad to tell
that Elric Eiffert drowned as well
when in the bath, when left alone
He had a seizure, danger known
by Loring Hall, the owners there
a private firm called Oakfields Care
The CQC reached this conclusion:
Loring Hall ‘required improvement’

The next to testify: Colette
, thirty-five, who met
her death when left to flee and stray
on the A1 southbound carriageway
Colette was sent to nowhere near
the place she lived, but Bedfordshire
Autistic, anxious, OCD
and handed to a company
that ran the private Milton Park
whose ‘caring’ raised a question mark
which could not keep its patient safe
And now her parents fight her case
despite the bias that they faced
which saw the coroner replaced
by one who heard it laid out bare:
the many flaws in Colette’s care

Next to tell: Amanda Briley
Aged just twenty; jury highly
criticised the place that missed
her needs while on a waiting list
and left Amanda unobserved
denied the care that she deserved

Stephanie Bincliffe, left alone
to grow to more than twenty stone
in a solo room in private halls
with bed pan and with padded walls

Oliver McGowan who
was given meds the system knew
that Oliver’s allergic to
against his parents’ stated view

Michael Bennett: his fatality
came when cared for by a charity

We could go on, and so we will
demanding truth and care until
autistic people get support
instead of pain and lives cut short

And you – the jury of their peers
Now give your verdict, through your tears
What say you? Is this merely sad,
a list of cases which, though bad,
and most regrettable for sure,
can’t really tell us any more?
Or do you, jury, see a pattern
in these shameful deaths that happened
in public care, though privatised
or starved of funds, demoralised,
with corners cut and needs neglected,
deaths that could have been prevented
So jurors, people good and true,
there’s just one verdict left to you
Our witnesses insist you listen:
Indict this homicidal system

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