Student, 19, took own life after being left alone in flat riddled with debt

A 19-year-old woman was found dead in her flat after falling behind with her rent with no one to help her, an inquest heard.

Courtney Lonsdale studied childcare studies at college and dreamt of going to university before her life was cut short.

Her body was discovered at her flat on March 2 last year having not been seen for a couple of days, prompting police to check in on her.

She was found at the home in Ovenden, Halifax, along with handwritten suicide notes, Bradford Coroner’s Court heard.

The inquest heard a friend of the deceased, Rhys Barratt, had seen messages on her Snapchat saying that ‘she didn’t want to be here anymore’.

Courtney’s mum, Kate Reilly, told the inquest how Courtney had suffered mental and physical abuse while in foster care and was diagnosed with depression in 2019.

She said she had her when she was just 16 years old and was forced to give up her three children into foster care in 2010 to protect them as she was a victim of domestic violence.

But Miss Reilly, who said she was from a ‘travelling family’, claims her children were placed with ‘middle-class folk’ who they couldn’t identify with.

She says Courtney grew up to be ‘a mixed-up, confused little girl with a mental age of 12’ and had been given a flat aged 17 and left alone with financial worries and was behind with her rent.

Miss Reilly, who now lives in Morecambe, told the hearing: ‘I’m terribly disappointed in the system. I will leave no stone unturned to get justice for my daughter, Courtney.’

Dr Sohail Ahmed, Courtney’s GP of Woodside Surgery, Halifax, said she had been diagnosed with depression in January 2019 and had previously tried to take her own life.

A mental health practitioner who had worked with Courtney told the inquest how she had a history of self-harm since 2013.

She said that at one point she had to be restrained by police to stop her jumping off a roof.

The now retired professional added: ‘She felt overwhelmed by her problems.’

Susan Holden who worked for Prospect, a company commissioned by Calderdale Council to provide support for young people up to the age of 25, said Courtney had become known to the care team in May 2017 when she was 16.

Staff visited her several times in 2019 with the last visit being in February 2020.

Assistant coroner Oliver Longstaff said: ‘The court has heard something of the concerns that her mother has for Courtney’s stay in foster care when she was a child.

‘These are not concerns that I am in a position to investigate because in terms of the chronology of Courtney’s life the issues referred to by Miss Reilly and Courtney, herself, predate March 2020 by some time.

‘I think it’s important to record that the act that Courtney took is different in nature from the previous incidents of self-harm, cutting herself, and the two occasions of an overdose in December 2019.

‘In my mind, there are strong indicators that she intended the consequences. She was discovered alone in a flat and there was no third-party involvement.

‘It’s also important that I refer to notes recovered from the scene.

‘I can say this much that having read them they are indicative of upset on Courtney’s part at the progress or lack of progress in a relationship and it makes for very moving reading.’

His conclusion was that she took her own life.

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