Updated January 2023

Before HM Senior Coroner Jonathan Heath
North Yorkshire Coroners Court, 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton DL7 8QZ
Opened 12 September 2022
Resuming 23 - 25 November and 19 December 2022
Conclusions expected 27 January 2023

Ben Nelson-Roux was 16 years old when his mum, Kate, found him dead in an adult homeless hostel owned and operated by Harrogate Borough Council at around 4pm on 8 April 2020. According to hostel CCTV, Ben could last be seen alive at 1am that morning.

Through his childhood and into adolescence, Ben was known to multiple agencies including Children’s Social Care, Housing, CAMHS, the Youth Justice Service and Police, and Compass REACH. Ben was recognised as a Child in Need and victim of Child Criminal Exploitation. On the day of Ben’s death, a Child Protection Strategy meeting was held following serious concerns for his safety but tragically Ben was found dead by his mum before any further action was taken.

Ben was an extraordinary person. He was bright, energetic and so loved by his many family members and friends. As a child, Ben struggled with reading and writing and was later diagnosed with ADHD and Conduct Disorder. This caused Ben great difficulty and he would often struggle to manage his emotions which resulted in self-harm. As a teenager, Ben started smoking cannabis as a way of coping with what was happening to him. Shortly after his 16th birthday, concerns were raised that Ben was being exploited by county lines drug gangs and his drug and alcohol use escalated. In the months before he died, Ben told his mum that he felt lost to himself.

Ben’s family tried to support Ben in every way they could – his parents arranged for him to visit his Aunt at her horse sanctuary in Spain and later built an annexe for him at the side of his mum’s house so that he could have more independence. Unfortunately, this was not enough to keep Ben safe. Children’s Services provided alternative Night Stop accommodation but Ben struggled to live with another family. In February 2020, he was placed in Cavendish House, a hostel for single homeless adults.

Just two days before Ben died, he was deemed by CAMHS to be ‘at significant risk of death’. Despite requests from his mum for Ben to undergo a mental health assessment, one was not carried out. The next day, Ben’s mum again raised her concerns with CAMHS about the risk that he might die. On the same day, Ben told his social worker that he had frequent thoughts of self-harm.

At a pre-inquest review hearing in January 2022, HM Senior Coroner Jonathan Heath ruled that Article 2 was engaged. The inquest into Ben’s death will explore the interaction by multiple agencies with Ben in the months before he died, including the decision by the North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council to place Ben in an adult homeless hostel, given the known risks and extreme vulnerabilities.



For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay at [email protected] 

Dying Homeless:
The Museum of Homelessness runs the Dying Homeless Project which tracks and collates the deaths of people sleeping rough as well as those placed in emergency accommodation and other insecure settings. They also host the Dying Homeless memorial, detailing the people behind the statistics.

The Dying Homeless Project found that there was a significant increase in deaths of homeless people in 2020 with 1,048 deaths, many of which took place in temporary or emergency accommodation. The number of deaths has continued to increase since.

Ben’s family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Gemma Vine of Ison Harrison solicitors and Ciara Bartlam of Garden Court North Chambers. They are supported by INQUEST caseworker Jodie Anderson.

Other interested persons are North Yorkshire Police, Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council.