Disabled artist Alison Lapper's son, 19, died of an 'accidental overdose', coroner rules

The teenage son of disabled artist Alison Lapper died of an accidental overdose after several ‘missed opportunities’ to tackle his substance misuse, a coroner has ruled.

Parys Lapper, 19, – who appeared in BBC One’s A Child of Our Time – began smoking cannabis and drinking as child after being subjected to bullying over his mother’s disabilities.

However he became badly addicted to both illegal and prescription drugs and his mental health deteriorated as his life spiralled out of control.

For several years he was treated by both child and adult mental health services but could not overcome his addiction to drugs.

Shortly before he died he was discharged from treatment because he had refused address his substance misuse.

On Thursday, West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield found Parys died from an accidental overdose of heroin and an anti-anxiety drug.

Miss Schofield said at West Sussex Coroners’ Court in Crawley that the case was ‘tragic’ but claimed there had been ‘missed opportunities’ to tackle his substance misuse. 

Parys Lapper, the teenage son of disabled artist Alison Lapper, died of an accidental overdose after several 'missed opportunities' to tackle his substance misuse, a coroner has ruled

Parys Lapper, the teenage son of disabled artist Alison Lapper, died of an accidental overdose after several ‘missed opportunities’ to tackle his substance misuse, a coroner has ruled 

Parys, 19, - who appeared in BBC One's A Child of Our Time - began smoking cannabis and drinking as child after being subjected to bullying over his mother's disabilities. Pictured: Ms Lapper arriving at West Sussex Coroner's Court on Tuesday with her partner Simon Clift

Parys, 19, – who appeared in BBC One’s A Child of Our Time – began smoking cannabis and drinking as child after being subjected to bullying over his mother’s disabilities. Pictured: Ms Lapper arriving at West Sussex Coroner’s Court on Tuesday with her partner Simon Clift

She said one glaring fact that needed addressing to prevent future deaths was that substance misusers are able to obtain duplicate prescriptions of the same drugs from different sources.

The hearing was told Parys was able to source one strong anti-anxiety drug from illegal street dealers and his own GP.

But when his own GP tried to curtail the drugs he paid a private Harley Street consultant to prescribe the same drug without his own doctor knowing.

He was eventually discharged by the mental health services because he would not address his substance misuse.

But just two weeks later the teenager was found dead from a drugs overdose at the Wolsey Hotel in Worthing, West Sussex.

Miss Schofield said there had been several ‘missed opportunities’ to help Parys tackle his substance misuse.

Miss Schofield said: ‘It is clear to me this was an accidental overdose with no attempt to take his own life. 

Parys became badly addicted to both illegal and prescription drugs and his mental health deteriorated as his life spiralled out of control

Parys became badly addicted to both illegal and prescription drugs and his mental health deteriorated as his life spiralled out of control 

‘This is a tragic case of a young man who had lost his life to drugs.’

She said many people had tried to help him tackle his substance misuse along the way but he was not ready to be helped at that time.

Miss Schofield added: ‘Parys was a young man with complex mental health issues. 

‘From a young age he had started to develop an excessive use of illicit substances and prescribed medications.

‘He had been under the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and transitioned to the Adult Mental Health Services.

‘Shortly before his death he had been discharged from the Adult Mental Health team as he had failed to engage with them.

‘At the time of his death he was under the care of a private psychiatrist but there was no active treatment or provision in place to address his misuse of prescribed medication or illicit substances.’

At the conclusion of the inquest his mother, Alison Lapper, broke down in tears and was comforted by her partner, Simon Clift.

Afterwards she said her ‘Miracle Millennium baby’ had been failed by mental health teams.

Parys' family believe the troubled teenager was failed by mental health services in the run-up to his death and his mother previously told the inquest in Crawley, West Sussex she had very serious concerns over his treatment

Parys’ family believe the troubled teenager was failed by mental health services in the run-up to his death and his mother previously told the inquest in Crawley, West Sussex she had very serious concerns over his treatment 

She said: ‘It has been extremely painful listening to the many failings. Parys should never have been discharged from mental heath services shortly before he died.

‘I hope that no other family has to experience the loss of their child due to failings in mental health services. Parys was a wonderful, bright, talented son who will be greatly missed.’

The hearing was told Parys had been a normal, happy young boy who took care of his appearance and loved life.

However as he entered his teenage years his behaviour began to deteriorate and he was less social and happy.

She said severe bullying he had suffered in school had caused him to suffer from anxiety and depression.

At the conclusion of the inquest his mother, Alison Lapper, broke down in tears and was comforted by her partner, Simon Clift. Pictured: Miss Lapper on Tuesday

At the conclusion of the inquest his mother, Alison Lapper, broke down in tears and was comforted by her partner, Simon Clift. Pictured: Miss Lapper on Tuesday

Miss Lapper, 55, an artist, who was born with no arms and shortened legs due to a condition called phocomelia, famously posed naked while heavily pregnant with Parys for a marble sculpture. The sculpture by artist Marc Quinn later went on display on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square between 2005-2007 (pictured)

Miss Lapper, 55, an artist, who was born with no arms and shortened legs due to a condition called phocomelia, famously posed naked while heavily pregnant with Parys for a marble sculpture. The sculpture by artist Marc Quinn later went on display on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square between 2005-2007 (pictured)

He was diagnosed with a catalogue of conditions including depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ADHD.

At the age of 17, Parys’s behaviour and mental health problems worsened and he was sectioned under the mental health act at Worthing Hospital.

He received a programme of treatment of the child mental health team but his drug use continued over several years.

At the age of 18 he was transferred to the adult mental health team at Sussex Partnership NHS Trust who also tried to curb his substance misuse.

In the last year of his life Parys he was obtaining drugs from different sources and on one occasion took 14 anti-anxiety tablets in one go.

Parys was discharged from mental health services on July 25, 2019, and went to live in a temporary accommodation hotel in Worthing, West Sussex. He was found dead on August 13.

Miss Lapper, 55, an artist, who was born with no arms and shortened legs due to phocomelia, famously posed naked while heavily pregnant with Parys for a marble sculpture.

The sculpture by artist Marc Quinn later went on display on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square between 2005-2007.

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