20 May 2021

Before HM Assistant Coroner Sonya Hayes
Kent and Medway Coroners Service
Archbishops Palace, Maidstone (with remote access)

Opens 24 May 2021 - scheduled for three days

Ellis Murphy-Richards was 15 years old when he died a self-inflicted death on 30 September 2020. He was under the care of NELFT Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). In the hours before his death, Ellis attended a counselling session with the service in which he expressed suicidal intentions. They informed his family he should be taken to A&E, but Ellis was able to leave and walk to a bridge in Sheppey, Kent where he died.

Ellis was a transgender boy who was living with his grandmother in Faversham, Kent. His death came just weeks before his sixteenth birthday. His family say that while Ellis was a TikTok enthusiast and portrayed a cool image of himself, he was really quite a geeky boy who loved to laugh and entertain. He was passionate about LGBTQ+ rights and equality. He had recently learned British Sign Language and liked to sign to pop songs.

Ellis had a history of mental ill health and had been under the care of NELFT since late 2018, specifically the Kent Children and Young People’s Mental Health Service (CYPMHS) Swale Team. Over the two years he was under their care there were multiple incidents of serious self-harm requiring hospital care, including suicide attempts. Ellis had also been a voluntary inpatient for mental health treatment at Priory Hospital Roehampton from February 2020, until being transferred closer to home to the Kent and Medway Adolescent Hospital, Woodland House, until June 2020.

On the day of his death on 30 September 2020, during a session with his care co-ordinator at Seashell’s Children’s Centre, Ellis disclosed a suicide attempt the night before and ongoing suicidal intentions. The care co-ordinator said he should be taken to A&E and planned with his grandmother, who was present, for him to be taken there in a family car. He expressed he did not want to go, and the care co-ordinator said she had no powers to detain him.

At or around 16:00, Ellis refused to enter the family car to go to A&E and walked off as the NEFLT care co-ordinator and his grandmother called after him. A few minutes later the care co-ordinator contacted Kent police, and gave a description of Ellis and the concerns for his risk to himself. At or around 16:45, Kent police were alerted to an incident on a bridge in Sheppey where a young person had jumped. Two members of the public had attempted to intervene but were unsuccessful.

The family have a number of concerns about the adequacy of the care provided to Ellis by mental health services, both immediately prior to and in the months leading up to his death. During the course of the three-day inquest the coroner will consider whether the circumstances surrounding Ellis’s care and treatment at the time of his death meet the criteria under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act.

The coroner will also consider the background to Ellis’s mental health history and involvement in services, how he came to his death, and his contact with mental health services around the time of his death.


For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or [email protected].

Please contact the coroner’s court directly to request remote access to the hearing.

Ellis’s family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Clare Evans of Taylor Rose MW solicitors and Rachel Barrett, Cloisters Chambers. The family are supported by INQUEST caseworker Bola Awogboro.

Other Interested Persons represented are NELFT Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Ellis’s mother previously argued for TikTok to be involved in the inquest, as she is concerned about the impact of potentially harmful online content and the algorithms which may have increased Ellis’s access to it. However, at a pre-inquest review in January 2021 the coroner opted not to include TikTok within the scope.

Journalists should refer to the Samaritans Media Guidelines for reporting suicide and self-harm and guidance for reporting on inquests.

Trans people and mental health

Research shows that transgender people in the UK disproportionately face mental ill health, including depression and anxiety. Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain – Health report (2018) found trans people are more likely to have felt that life was not worth living, with 60% reporting these thoughts in the past year. Two thirds of trans people (67%) reported experiencing depression.