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In loving memory of Liam Hardy who took his own life in foster care aged 14

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on Sat, 09/28/2013 - 21:11
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 Teen father-to-be found hanged was 'failed by social services', says Sutton serious case review

 Teen father-to-be found hanged was 'failed by social services', says Sutton serious case review

A vulnerable 14-year-old father-to-be found hanged was failed by the services supposed to be supporting him, a report has revealed.

Liam Hardy, a popular pupil at Carshalton Boys Sports College, was found hanged at his grandparents’ home in Stonecot Hill, Sutton, on Monday, November 19, 2012.

He had been speaking on the phone to his pregnant girlfriend just 20 minutes earlier.

Liam was taken to hospital but died on Tuesday, November 27.

His death triggered an investigation by the independent Sutton Local Safeguarding Children Board (SLSCB), known as a serious case review.

The resulting report, released on Friday, criticised social services and other bodies for a "fundamental failure" to work together.

Liam, who appears to have taken his own life, was known to local agencies including Sutton Council because of concerns about his health and wellbeing.

He had a form of epilepsy and his mum, Janine Hardy, was unwell at one point and had been a victim of domestic abuse.

There were indications of Liam self-harming from 2009 that led to multiple reports of him threatening to take his own life or behaving in a violent manner.

During one incident he threatened his mother with broken glass and held a carving knife to his own chest - but Sutton Children’s Social Care services decided there was no need to become involved because of the involvement of other agencies.

In mid-November Liam became "extremely upset" while on the phone to his pregnant girlfriend, trying to strangle himself and arming himself with a knife.

Days later Liam hanged himself leading to his death just over a week later.

Tributes flooded in for Liam and a memorial was up outside his school 

The report criticises agencies involved with him, in particular the Merton, Kingston and Sutton Multi Systemic Therapy (MST) service that provides support where there is a risk of out-of-home placement or antisocial behaviour.

The report says MST's work was "deeply flawed" and staff showed a lack of alertness to the child protection issues surrounding Liam.

It cites a "vicious circle" where Sutton Children’s Social Care services were too willing to stand back and let another agency take the lead.

There were missed opportunities to reach out to the youngster who had a wide range of interests and found refuge from some of his troubles at school.

His mother's commitment to her son is clear throughout the report as Ms Hardy continually reported Liam’s incidents of self harm. However, she was let down by the agencies working with him who did not give him the appropriate priority they should have.

Liam and his mother Janine Hardy

Kevin Crompton, chairman of SLSCB,  said: "The death of [Liam] was a tragedy for his family and friends and we extend our sympathy and condolences to them.

"It is clear that some aspects of this case could have been handled better."

A series of recommendations are made to both the Sutton Safeguarding Children Board and the SW London and St George’s Mental Health Trust to review the MST service.