25th September 2015

At Oxford Coroner’s Court, New Road, County Hall, New Road, Oxford, OX1 1ND before Mr Darren Salter, Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire and a jury

From 10am on Monday 5 October 2015 until Friday 16 October 2015

Connor Sparrowhawk was 18 years old when he died on 4 July 2013. Connor had autism, a learning disability and epilepsy. He had been found submerged in the bath on the Short Term Assessment and Treatment Team (STATT) Unit, an Assessment and Treatment Unit for individuals with learning disabilities run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. A post-mortem report concluded that Connor had drowned as a result of an epileptic seizure. He had been on the STATT unit for 107 days at the time of his death.

It is anticipated that the inquest into Connor’s death will explore the following issues:

  1. Connor’s admission to the STATT Unit and his progress on admission;
    2. The management of Connor’s epilepsy;
    3. Care planning and risk assessment, including communication with Connor’s family;
    4. Medication;
    5. Observations, including whether Connor was appropriately observed whilst in the bath;
    6. The application of the Mental Capacity Act by staff on the STATT unit;
    7. The adequacy of record keeping on the STATT unit.

There will be seven other Interested Persons, in addition to the family, represented at the inquest into Connor’s death.

Connor’s mother, Dr Sara Ryan and stepfather, Richard Huggins, who will both be giving evidence at the inquest said:

Connor was a quirky, funny young man who was deeply loved by his family and many who knew him. He died over two years ago now. This has been a long and tortuous process to get to this point. We hope that the inquest will provide an opportunity to openly explore what happened to Connor and establish accountability and responsibility”.

Paul Scarrott of Oxfordshire self-advocacy organisation My Life My Choice said:

Connor’s death shocked everybody in My Life My Choice. The inquest is important because Connor is important and we need to know the truth about how he died”.

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“This was an unnatural death of a vulnerable teenager with learning disabilities. There needs to be the most robust scrutiny to identify any systemic failings in Connor’s treatment and care. The high number of people with learning disabilities dying prematurely every year and the lack of independent mechanisms to investigate these deaths makes such scrutiny even more pressing.”

INQUEST has been working with the family of Connor Sparrowhawk since July 2013.The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Charlotte Haworth Hird of Bindmans Solicitors and barristers Caoilfhionn Gallagher of Doughty Street Chambers and Paul Bowen QC of Brick Court Chambers.

The family will not be speaking with the press during the course of the inquest and ask that all press enquiries be directed to Selen Cavcav at INQUEST (0207 263 1111), George Julian (07967 008201 or [email protected]) or [email protected]

The JusticeforLB campaign will be live tweeting the inquest proceedings: @LBInquest