Rossendale Free Press

Teen who found herself homeless took her own life

‘Tragic case’ says coroner

- JON MACPHERSON freepressn­ @RossFreePr­ess

ATEENAGER took her own life after finding herself homeless with a coroner describing her death as a “tragic case”.

Callie Smith told a housing support worker she had “f ***** up big time” just hours before she was found dead on a footpath.

The “bright, intelligen­t and ultimately vulnerable teenager” 19-year-old was homeless at the time of her death following several periods living with friends and family, including an auntie in Bacup.

Senior coroner Joanne Kearsley recorded her death as suicide following a three-day hearing and ruled that the fact she had “nowhere to stop” would have been ‘a prevalent factor in her thinking and actions’.

Earlier, Rochdale Coroner’s Court heard from David Booth, a housing support worker at a hostel where Callie lived for several months in 2019.

In a statement, Mr Booth said he bumped into Callie and a friend in Bury town centre on the evening of June 9.

He asked how she was doing, and she told him: “I’m properly homeless and I’ve f ***** up big time.”

Mr Booth said she then asked if there were any places at the hostel and he told her to go along in the morning to speak to someone.

He said she seemed ‘clear-headed’ at the time and he had no concerns for her mental health.

Just hours later, Callie’s body was found by a passer-by on the Kirklees Trail in Bury.

A pathologis­t gave her cause of death as ‘asphyxia due to fatal pressure on the neck caused by hanging’.

“It’s clear to me that Callie was trying to understand how her own behaviours, moods and emotions impacted not just herself, but others.

The inquest heard further evidence about Callie’s involvemen­t with mental health and housing services prior to her death.

After spending several weeks as an inpatient on the Irwell Unit at Fairfield Hospital in March 2019 during which she was diagnosed with emotionall­y unstable personalit­y disorder - Callie was referred to Healthy Minds in Bury.

Katie Kubacki, a team leader at the mental health service, said a letter was sent to Callie, but she failed to book an appointmen­t so was discharged.

A further referral was made by a psychiatri­st in August of that year, but a letter inviting Callie to book an appointmen­t was sent to the wrong address.

A telephone assessment was eventually arranged for late November, but was only partially completed as Callie was at work at the time.

However, the inquest heard the results of the assessment showed she was suffering from ‘severe depression and anxiety’.

After Callie failed to answer her phone for a telephone appointmen­t in December, she was again discharged from the service.

Callie was referred to Healthy Minds again after calling for an ambulance in February of last year amid fears she ‘couldn’t keep herself safe’.

However, she never made contact.

Ms Kubacki explained that as Healthy Minds mostly dealt with patients with ‘mild to moderate’ mental health issues, Callie’s assessment results suggested she would not have met the criteria.

She said that, in hindsight, Callie should have been referred back to a psychiatri­st.

The inquest also heard from Janet Woods, Callie’s housing support worker at the hostel in Bury town centre where she lived for several months in 2019.

She described Callie as being ‘self-sufficient’ and said she ‘kept herself to herself ’.

However, Ms Woods said that on one occasion, Callie showed her a letter from the Inland Revenue - now HMRC - claiming she owed ‘a substantia­l amount of money’.

“Her ex-boyfriend appeared to have used her details,” she said.

“She was really upset about it. Callie stated that she had never received

any of that money.” In December 2019, Callie moved in with a friend, Felicity Garside, and her family.

Ms Woods said she attempted to convince her to stay at the hostel but ‘rarely’ saw Callie before her tenancy ended in March.

Following an incident in which Callie had to attend hospital in May, she was asked to move out by her friend’s mother.

She then moved in with her auntie, Sharon Wike, in Bacup but failed to return home after going out to meet friends on the evening of June 6.

When Ms Wike learned Callie had been out drinking, she told her not to return as she was worried about Covid-19.

Callie then spent the next two evenings staying with friends.

On the evening prior to her death, the plan was for Ms Garside to sneak Callie into her house after her mother had gone to bed.

Ms Garside left Callie outside but when she returned, her friend was nowhere to be seen.

Delivering her conclusion, Ms Kearsley described Callie as ‘a bright, intelligen­t and ultimately

vulnerable teenager’.

“Her death is a tragic case,” she said.

“It’s clear to me that Callie was trying to understand how her own behaviours, moods and emotions impacted not just herself, but others.

“She was someone who, despite all her challenges, was attempting to engage.

“Everything I have heard suggests Callie herself was doing her best.

“In my view, the services attempted to assist Callie and for much of the time she engaged. She took advice and attended A&E when she felt unsafe.

“The reality is that Callie had a personalit­y disorder which could not be corrected with medical interventi­on.”

Ms Kearsley said she was satisfied Callie intended to end her own life and ruled that her diagnosis of emotionall­y unstable personalit­y disorder would have impacted her actions.

She added: “From all the evidence I have heard, Callie had times where she had suicidal thoughts and I’m satisfied that the correct conclusion is that she died as a result of suicide.”

 ?? ?? ●●Callie Smith was found dead on a footpath at a nature trail
●●Callie Smith was found dead on a footpath at a nature trail
 ?? ?? ●●Callie Smith and her mother, Vanessa O’Neill
●●Callie Smith and her mother, Vanessa O’Neill

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