Nikolas Clarke represents local authority in Article 2 inquest into death of Eritrean teenager who died by suicide

07 January 2022

Nikolas Clarke represented one of the local authorities in an Article 2 inquest concerning an unaccompanied teenage asylum-seeker, AT who died by suicide a few months after turning 18. The local authority had been responsible previously for the deceased as a ‘looked after’ child.

Background to the inquest

AT arrived in the UK in December 2016 from Eritrea after having spent time living in an informal refugee camp in Calais.

Initially another local authority housed him in adult Home Office accommodation as his age had not been properly determined.

When AT moved, and the local authority Nikolas represented took on his care, it became clear that AT had a serious alcohol addiction and needed significant support.

He received support ‘above and beyond what might have been expected’ from two of his local authority key workers. However Social Services struggled to put in place an effective strategy to help him address his alcoholism.

By November 2017, and aged 18, AT’s condition had deteriorated so much and he began to self-harm.

His key workers were unable to compel or convince him to go into rehabilitation. Around that time, he also lost one of his close friends to suicide. He was in a depressed state.

On 5 December 2017 with five times the legal limit for alcohol in his blood,  he took his own life.

The coroner’s findings

The coroner recorded a short form conclusion with a narrative: suicide whilst the balance of his mind was affected.