A 16-YEAR-OLD boy died in a care home after a ‘clear failure’ to spot he was in possession of alcohol and drugs, an inquest heard.

Daniel Sewell-French was found dead in his bedroom at the Cherry Tree Resource Centre run by Blackburn with Darwen Council on October 2, last year.

He died from morphine toxicity, after taking morphine sulphate with alcohol and the painkiller buprenorphine, an inquest heard.

East Lancashire coroner Michael Singleton said Daniel had most likely acquired the drugs from the homes of two different uncles without their knowledge the previous day.

Speaking after the inquest, his mum Barbara Sewell said she hoped Daniel's case would prevent other families going through the same thing.


The inquest heard Daniel returned to the care home drunk at exactly 7pm the day before his death, just in time to meet the curfew monitored by his electronic tag.

Mr Singleton was told his mother had picked Daniel up and dropped him off at Lidl in Darwen at 2.30pm to go to visit extended family.

Mrs Sewell told the hearing: “He was happy. He was looking forward to seeing his cousin.

“When I collected him to take him back to the home he had clearly had a drink, he said he was drunk.

“He was very honest and up front with me. He didn’t have a fear of getting in trouble.There was no sign he was under the influence of drugs.”

However, Lee Gallagher, principal residential carer at Cherry Tree, told the hearing Daniel was ‘very drunk’ when he returned, but he was not concerned as he had seen him in worse conditions.

Mr Gallagher said he noticed Daniel was holding his stomach so carried out a search of his room but found no alcohol or drugs.

The inquest was told Daniel went to bed shortly before 9.30pm and was checked on once at 12.45am by watch manger Elizabeth Wilding, who believed he was asleep.

The next time he was visited was by care worker Lynette Hitchen after his mother phoned the home at 11.30am to say she was coming round.

SMrs Hitchen said: “I opened the door and shouted his name.

“I knew there was something wrong. I touched his ankle and it was very cold.”

Mr Singleton said he was satisfied new steps had been taken by the care home to prevent similar incidents and said a further report was not necessary.

He said: “There was a clear failure to identify that Daniel was in possession of both alcohol and drugs.

“No adequate steps were taken to ensure that he was not in possession of these items." But he added these steps had now been taken after the home created an action plan.

Mrs Sewell said after the hearing: “I hope these changes will help prevent other mothers and kids having to go through this.”